SP leader Emile Roemer: ‘Whoever is attached to freedom, must have the courage to defend freedom’

14 January 2015

SP leader Emile Roemer: ‘Whoever is attached to freedom, must have the courage to defend freedom’

Foto: SP

‘Our democracy cannot exist without the freedom to think and to believe, to write and to draw what you will. Whoever is attached to freedom, must have the courage to defend freedom. Combatting terrorism cannot be achieved without secret services which work well. Isolate the extremists, arrest the jihadist recruiters and prevent jihadist youths from leaving the Netherlands.’ So said SP leader Emile Roemer in today’s Parliamentary debate on the Paris attacks.

Below is a complete translation of Emile Roemer’s contribution to that debate:


The Netherlands has been shocked by the brutal and cowardly attacks in Paris.

People fear that there will be attacks in the Netherlands and ask themselves how we can fight back, now that terror has come so close?

But people also fear that the conflicts between different groups within the population are growing, between Muslims and non-Muslims, that people of good will could be set one against the other.

On the day that the news of the terrible murders in Paris broke, I was in New York. There, I stood in front of the Statue of Liberty. ‘Freedom lights up the world’, as the French described the statue when they gave it to the US in 1886.

The attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo touches the core of our society, of our freedom and our values.

"Our democracy cannot exist without the freedom to think and to believe, to write and to draw what you will. Whoever is attached to freedom, must have the courage to defend freedom."

How does the Prime Minister now feel when he looks back on the cuts in the AIVD (the internal security service – translator’s note), as a result of which a great deal of knowledge and experience has been lost? Can he assure us now that every effort will be made to rebuild sufficient capacity and skills?

Cooperation between security services must be improved. How can it be that the terrorists in Paris could travel to France via Turkey, without being arrested? Why was this crucial informationnot shared between security services in France and Turkey?

When it comes to tackling terrorists, there is a great deal already that we can do. The question is whether that is what is actually happening.

Networks of jihadists could be drawn up, the financing of jihadists must be stopped. What results have been achieved to date?

Passports have been confiscated on at least fifty occasions, but what happened to these young people afterwards? What is the government doing to de-radicalise them?

How is it possible that mayors sit scratching their heads because they don't know what they should do about radicalized young people?

How can it be that social workers tell us that there is absolutely no information available to them on what they should be doing about radicalised youth? Where would it be appropriate for them to go for this and what is the government going to do to improve information and support?

Everyone enjoys freedom of conscience; in our country, happily, you can believe what you will. You may profess your faith and do that wherever you wish.

These fundamentals we will always defend. Extremists who attack our freedoms under the flag of Islam we will combat.

We will also attack extremists who now declare a million Dutch citizens to be terrorists, who misuse the attack on freedom to set people against each other.

"There are politicians who talk now of a ‘war’ with Islam. They seize on this attack to intensify the conflicts in the society and to reinforce discrimination."

So what should we do?

The SP expects the government to do everything it can to improve security in the Netherlands.

Isolate the extremists, arrest the jihadist recruiters, stop Dutch jihadist youth from leaving the Netherlands and cooperate better with other security services.

Undermine the extremists by exposing what they are and what they do. Tackle Salafist organisations which encourage young people to turn their backs on our society.

But that isn’t enough. We must also stop draining resources from our those responsible for our rule of law.

Provide a bigger budget for after-care, so that those who have been imprisoned can have better guidance and programmes of de-radicalisation.

How is is possible for the government to continue to cut spending on the public prosecutor’s office and on the police? Are we not now asking too much of the people charged with protecting us?

But there is more.

"The more we allow young people to live in isolation from each other’s lives, the greater will be the mutual distrust and the less the understanding that together we are one."

For years Salafist organisations have been seen as a means of putting problem youth back on the right path. Via Halt (an official agency whose purpose is to dissuade young people from criminal and anti-social behaviour – translator’s note ) young people went straight to the As-Soennah mosque. (which is accused of preaching jihadism- translator’s note)

For years radical mosques have been receiving subsidies for aiding school students with their homework.

We will also need to make progress in our integration policies. Together in schools, mixed neighbourhoods, language courses and in tackling discrimination and racism. We can prevent radicalisation if we can draw young people out of their isolation early enough. .

It cannot be denied that the growth of violent extremism is also connected to the West’s failed foreign policies. .

War, violence and the power vacuum in the Middle East have created more room for terrorists rather than reducing it..

The fight against radicalisation also concerns foreign policy: the waging of illegal wars and the flooding of a whole region with weapons, without knowing who was going to be firing them next.

Today I can but think of Sultan, the 19-year-old boy from Maastricht who called himself Abu Abdullah al-Hollandi. He blew himself up in December in Baghdad –and took more than twenty innocent people with him to their deaths.

In Sultan’s farewell video we see not a hardened warrior, but a poor, ailing boy. A child still, who sowed death and ruin. A young person from Limburg who became the prisoner of a terrible ideology of hatred and violence.

We must take every measure necessary to safeguard our society. But we must also continue to consider how we can live in a society which loses sight of a boy like Sultan.

We need to keep thinking about how it has come to pass in our country that people grow up renouncing our civilisation to the extent that they are prepared to commit such atrocities.

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