‘Action plan to combat Jihadists looks like panic football’

4 September 2014

‘Action plan to combat Jihadists looks like panic football’

‘Why do people born here turn against our society? Why do people who have grown up here support the most horrific violence? How can it be that some of our children are becoming our enemies?’

Below is the contribution of SP leader Emile Roemer to today’s debate on how to deal with Dutch Jihadist fighters.

When you see the pictures of ISIS terrorists beheading people in Syria and Iraq, the brutal violence which they commit against women and children and the unscrupulous way in which they proceed, you ask yourself how it can be that people completely lose their humanity.

These horrors aren’t happening entirely in some remote place, but are also coming ever closer. We see that in our own country too are people who support this barbarity – or sympathise with it.

In our political polder a fire has been smouldering for years, and in some neighbourhoods the flames are now rising high. Young people who express their support for the horrors of the Islamic State; Muslims who are proud to live here rejected as ‘traitors’. And people returning from Syria or Iraq with the possible aim of perpetrating attacks.

You can say a great deal in our country, but you can’t do whatever you like. You can’t sow hatred, discriminate or incite violence. You can be a believer or a non-believer. Homosexual or heterosexual. Man or woman. We are all equal. The laws and the rules go for everyone.  And everyone should be able to get his or her rights.

Like many others, when I have seen supporters of ISIS demonstrating, I have thought, ‘Security forces, police, Public Prosecutor, get to work’. And if I can believe the reports of recent weeks, that is now going to happen.

Hatemongers are at last being dealt with. Recruiters are finally being arrested. But why did this have to take so long? For far too long, extremists have been able to have their own way in our country. People who turn against our society, who seek to commit attacks in the Netherlands, must be dealt with harshly. It’s important that we make these limits completely clear.
The actions of recent weeks have shown that a great deal is already possible. But once again: why did that not happen earlier? Last week we got an action programme against radicalisation and Jihadism. A list of thirty-eight proposals, most of which were already familiar to me.

The government’s action plan looks like panic football. In the recent past no attention has been paid to addressing polarisation and radicalisation. No attention to growing segregation. Districts and neighbourhoods are going backwards, while the government has made no attempt in recent years to change that. Does the minister agree that we must together ensure that everyone feels involved in our society? That we must combat exclusion in every possible way?

In the action plan on the one hand numerous existing measures are once again summarised, things we have already been able to do for some time, but evidently have not done. Arrest recruiters, take away passports, use the criminal law to prosecute those who sow hatred. On the other hand measure are announced of which it is unclear whether they are necessary and effective.

Is it true that the government wants to deprive people of their citizenship without due process of law? Is the government of the opinion that this will contribute to a safer and more social Netherlands, or will it have precisely the opposite effect? Why are we going to collect all of the flight data on all citizens?  By doing so you won’t catch any terrorists, but undermine our privacy and the rule of law.

By imposing draconian measures which affect all citizens – such as the travel register – or with constitutionally dubious proposals (such as removing someone’s citizenship without their having been convicted of a criminal offence), the government is displaying its lack of power and attempting to cover up the fact that for all of this time it has done far too little to address these problems.

I think it’s great that the government will now give more space to the police and the Public Prosecutor to tackle the Jihadists. But the fact that the government wants to throw sand in our eyes doesn’t help, as they did yesterday when they allowed it to be leaked that twenty million less than planned would be cut from the latter’s budget. This leaves a structural spending cut of 114 million, eighty million for next year. Can the minister confirm these figures? How is the Public Prosecutor supposed to create more space with 114 million less? What other tasks will they then have to neglect? Or is this all just fine words, without deeds?

How does the government square this approach to radicalisation with the mess in the youth service, where friend and foe can see that soon still more young people will fall between a rock and a hard place? Can you explain this?

The government has sent Parliament a list of proposals without any analysis, without giving any views. Nothing about the causes of radicalisation, nothing about poor integration or growing segregation. Why not? Will we receive such, and if so when?   Nothing either on the question of why some Dutch people hate their own country so profoundly and why they decide to go to Syria or Iraq on an uncertain adventure.  On how it has come about that some people are susceptible to brute force and to such a bestial ideology. Is the government prepared to look more closely into this?

There are many mosques which support our fight against ISIS terror, as is shown by our joint declaration, in which churches, trade unions, mosques and many others speak out against extremism and in favour of mutual solidarity. But there are unfortunately also mosques financed from Qatar, a breeding ground for this terror. Is the government prepared to make this financing visible and to bring forward proposals to stop this?

Some people have crossed the point of no return, if they have gone to fight for ISIS and have been trained for the Jihad. These people remain when they come back an explosive danger. Fortunately most young people who sympathise with ISIS have not yet gone that far.

The government had a plan against radicalisation from which it can be seen that we could already be doing so much. The government must show that they are indeed doing that. But can the government also explain what this raging fire means for the integration policy?

When will we see the government’s plans to prevent further segregation in some neighbourhoods and further isolation of some young people?

We must be tough on extremism but not without looking at its causes and doing something about its breeding grounds.  
Extremism will always exist, but the question is how much of a chance you give it to propagate.
At the same time we must strengthen solidarity and mutual sympathy between different population groups. Here and internationally.

You don’t after all fight hate with hate, just as you cannot protect the important values of an open and free society by destroying these same values and our rule of law.

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