Rotterdam Mayor Still Thinks Fellow Muslims Should Get Lost If They Don’t Like Western Culture

Robert Jonathan

Rotterdam, Holland, mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has reaffirmed his view that his fellow Muslims should leave the Netherlands if they are unwilling to accept the country's tradition of tolerance.

As you may recall, the mayor made headlines across the globe last month in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo terrrorist attack in Paris. At that time, he proclaimed that those unwilling to accept such Western norms as freedom of speech and satire should pack the bags and leave. He specifically told those individuals to get lost, or perhaps used stronger words to that effect, depending upon the translation.

A practicing Muslim, Aboutaleb moved from Morocco to the Netherlands with his family when he was was a teenager. A member of the Labor Party (Partij van de Arbeid), he was elected mayor of Rotterdam, the second largest city in the country (behind Amsterdam) with a population of about 600,000, in 2010. He holds dual citizenship in the Netherlands and Morocco.

In an interview with CNN earlier this week while visiting Washington for the White House summit on extremism, the mayor stressed the importance of tolerance, noting that gaining Dutch citizenship is more than just about a passport.

"You know, the Dutch constitution but also the Dutch society is constructed in very, very interesting basic value and that is tolerance and acceptance. So the moment you come to the Netherlands, wherever from all over the world and you get a citizenship then you have to at least underline and embrace the constitution and the values of the country. We are a diverse country; my city is 154 nationalities. And that means that the rule of law is above everyone. Whatever your conviction is, whatever your religion is, whatever."
"But if you reject the society, you don't want to be member of what I call the we community, and you reject the constitution and you reject the quality between people and you reject the freedoms, then it's up to you to examine whether you want to be with us... But if you want to send out of the we community, you threaten us, you go to Yemen to learn how to use a Kalashnikov and to come back to threaten the society, well, you are not part of my we society; you'd better leave..."
"I'm one of the people who knows how it is to live in poverty. I spent 15 years in Morocco of my life on one meal a day, walking without shoes. Go to the Netherlands without a coat to protect myself... And I cannot accept that poverty leads to terrorism. Poverty must lead to a seek to knowledge, to sciences, to be better, to climb on the social ladder... It's about investing in yourself, first of all, and by doing that, you invest in society. And that's the message I try to give."