Prime minister Mark Rutte said during a television debate with other party leaders on Thursday night it would be better if Dutch jihadis who travel to Syria died there rather than return to the Netherlands.
Rutte was asked if he agreed with the statement that it would be preferable if jihadis died rather than came back. D66 leader Alexander Pechtold said he was shocked by the prime minister’s position.
‘I think as prime minister you should put the rule of law first, but you are saying ‘go and die in the desert rather than face your responsibilities in court,’ Pechtold said. Such a statement is ‘unworthy of a prime minister’, he said.
Rutte retaliated by saying that ‘people who go there know what they are part of’. ‘The only aim is to kill as many people as possible. Those people will soon be back to carry out attacks here as well. As prime minister, I am here to protect our people.’
Most people agree with this position, the prime minister added.
Other party leaders also criticised the prime minister’s statement. CDA leader Sybrand Buma said the government should be making more money available to track down and arrest jihadis.
Socialist party leader Emile Roemer said the focus should be on stopping youngsters radicalising in the first place.
Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam PVV, pulled out of the debate because he was ill.
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