Friday 25 September 2020

Go to Syria to fight, says Rotterdam mayor, but you can never come back

ad aboutalebDutch nationals who have decided they want to travel to Syria to join Islamic militias should be allowed to go but should be banned from coming back to the Netherlands, Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb says in Wednesday’s AD newspaper.

‘I want to make sure those who are considering going to Syria know exactly what is at risk,’ Aboutaleb said. ‘If you think this society is depraved, then go. But there is no way back. Hand over your passport and risk getting bombed.’

Aboutaleb’s position directly contradicts the official line taken by the government, which aims to stop people travelling to Syria and Iraq in the first place.

At least 29 Rotterdammers have gone to Syria and Iraq over the past year.

The mayor also said he wanted to find out more about what made would-be jihadis tick. ‘Why do they take this step?’ Aboutaleb said. ‘Because they face discrimination, don’t have a job, are rejected by society?… there is more to it than that.’

Impossible

‘The picture I get from international media like al-Jazeera is that a large number of them are driven by idealism and the idea of living in a country where the word of god rules… and that makes taking steps against them almost impossible.’

On Tuesday, judges in Maastricht released a 19-year-old Muslim convert from custody, who faces charges of joining a terrorist organisation. She spent nine months in Syria despite having her passport cancelled.

Also on Tuesday, police arrested three men from Arnhem and Eindhoven on terrorism charges. One of them is a Syria returnee. The two others are suspected of funding terrorism. The investigation into their activities began in the summer following a security service tip off.

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