City opts for zero toleration on racism

30th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

30 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — Two arson attacks at an Islamic school in recent months have sparked alarm in the Brabant city of Uden, where tougher measures were implemented on Tuesday night to combat problem youth. The crackdown comes after a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of the Bedir Islamic primary school on Sunday night and the arrest of a 17-year-old boy on suspicion of arson.

30 March 2005

AMSTERDAM — Two arson attacks at an Islamic school in recent months have sparked alarm in the Brabant city of Uden, where tougher measures were implemented on Tuesday night to combat problem youth.
 
The crackdown comes after a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of the Bedir Islamic primary school on Sunday night and the arrest of a 17-year-old boy on suspicion of arson.

It was the second such attack within five months. The school was previously targeted in an arson attack in November soon after the murder of Theo van Gogh by an alleged Islamic militant.

In response to the first incident, Uden City Council drew up a plan under which it would hold talks more often with various community groups.

But the council decided in an emergency meeting on Tuesday that it will now take tougher measures against problem youth. Previously only prepared to take action to prevent problems, it has now opted for a 'lik-op-stuk-beleid' or tit-for-tat policy.

Asserting that enough was enough, the council warned that acts such as graffiti at mosques and arson attacks will not be tolerated.

Talks will be intensified with parents, schools, police and youth workers in a bid to gain a better picture of the situation on the ground so that adequate and timely measures can be taken.

And Uden Mayor Joke Kersten was scheduled to visit the school on Wednesday together with the local police chief. They were to meet with the school board to discuss worrying community unrest.

As parents raise concerns about violence, youth workers have admitted they had expected a repeat attack on the school, news agency ANP reported.

The director of cultural centre De Pul, Loek Borrèl, also suggested the culprits could be from the same group of those accused of the November incident.

Borrèl and colleagues claim that racism is primarily evident among VMBO vocational secondary school students in Uden, claiming that there are indications of hatred of Muslims among the pupils.

This was reinforced on Tuesday when a teen boy rode his bike into a group of students and two teachers at the Bedir school on Tuesday. The boy made racist remarks and one of the teachers has lodged a police report.

The Islamic community in Uden has reacted with shock to Sunday's fire, particularly after a deliberately lit fire destroyed the school in November.

Six suspects aged 14 to 16 were arrested for the first attack and will appear in court on 17 May. They are currently under house arrest, but are being allowed to attend school.

The school relocated to the Aldetienstraat after the November attack. The damage resulting from the latest incident was restricted to just two chairs.

The 17-year-old suspect was arrested on Sunday night after boisterous behaviour at the school. He also refused police orders to leave the area. He is now suspected of arson, but police have not ruled out further arrests.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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