Two main Dutch cities to join forces on ethnic divisions
Amsterdam and Rotterdam are to join forces in the fight against ethnic divisions in Dutch society and the promotion of the integration of migrants. Newspaper de Volkskrant reports that a first, closed meeting was held in Rotterdam between senior council officials and politicians from both cities last week.
The collaboration between the two cities comes as a surprise, as the two cities chose radically different approaches to the issue of integration in the wake of the assassinations of politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and film maker Theo van Gogh in 2004. Under the leadership of local interests party Leefbaar Rotterdam Liveable Rotterdam the port city adopted a zero-tolerance policy including ethnic registration of problem youths. Then Amsterdam mayor and prominent Labour Party politician Job Cohen was both praised and vilified for his policy of ‘ accommodation’ and ‘drinking tea’ with representatives of ethnic minorities.
The current mayors of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Eberhard van der Laan en Ahmed Aboutaleb both Labour Party are more alike than their predecessors Job Cohen and Ivo Opstelten. In September, the University of Amsterdam and the Erasmus University in Rotterdam are to present a joint comparative study on integration problems in the two cities and their possible solutions.
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