Four-year plan to combat radicalisation

27th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

Four-year plan to combat radicalisation

27 August 2007

AMSTERDAM (AFP) - The Dutch government on Monday announced a four-year plan to combat radicalisation especially among Muslim youths, amid concern over domestic Islamic extremism.

Most of the plan's budget of EUR 28 million will go to local governments to support projects designed to keep youths from turning against Dutch society and its values, officials said.

"It is the first time that the Netherlands has launched an integral plan involving all eight relevant ministries to combat radicalisation and polarisation in our society," Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst said.

The Netherlands has been shaken by radical Muslim violence since the assassination of filmmaker and columnist Theo van Gogh in 2004 by a Muslim who was angry at a film he had made criticising the treatment of women in Islam.

The killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, came from the Slotervaart district of Amsterdam where Ter Horst presented her plan.

"We are concerned with youths who do not feel at home in the Netherlands and who do not feel Dutch. While they are trying to find their own identity, they can become radical and we want to stop that," she said.

"We are not only trying to fight radicalisation in Muslims but also in far-right groups."

Despite these concerns there are no official figures on the problem of radicalisation among Dutch youths, although the minister said the government was funding a study of the problem.

The action plan is mainly a grouping together of earlier measures in areas such as education, child support, anti-discrimination and employment.

Ter Horst said most of the work must be done by the municipalities. The government plans have few concrete measures and speak mainly of supporting local projects.

Slotervaart district council president Ahmed Marcouch was one of the first to put radicalisation of Muslim youths on the agenda and says the neighbourhood has between 50 and 60 such young people.

His budget to combat radicalisation will go from EUR 100,000 to EUR 500,000 a year under the new plan.

That extra money will be spent on training teachers, social workers and parents on how to deal with youths who are coming under radical influences, he said.

"It's not some form of thought control where we say what kids can and cannot think. We want to give teachers the tools to initiate the discussion and not be afraid," he explained.

"We also have to make sure not every Muslim youth is seen as a potential problem," added Marchouch, who is of Moroccan origin.

Ter Horst added: "There is no pill against radicalisation. You have to talk and talk and talk to those who are going through the process. We are focussing on prevention because a crackdown doesn't always work."

[Copyright AFP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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