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11/1 Jurists want to stay in Oudemanhuispoort

8/2 Mayor’s portrait

8/2 Websites for social cohesion

7/2 Spreading tourism proceeds with difficulty

7/2 GroenLinks on districts: Be a man

6/2 Zuideramstel opens new office on Sabbath

5/2 The truth about integration

4/2 Wilders has little support on Amsterdam

3/2 Elite involved in neighbourhood

2/2 Johnnie Walker avoids taxes in Amsterdam

1/2 Rotterdam to tinker with district councils as well

31/1 Wooden rowing boats to disappear from Amstel

31/1 ZeeburgTV launched

27/1 Privacy activists to mess up loyalty card system

27/1 A few were still coughing, but that was an act

27/1 Chrisis in de Baarsjes

26/1 Youth have positive view of districts

24/1 Action groups call for Carmel and Jaffa boycott

24/1 PvdA members dismiss plan for districts

23/1 KLM takes on crisis with new uniform

23/1 District office not squatted

21/1 Merge districts

20/1 Closing squat bar Vrankrijk not necessary

20/1 Cleaners welcome new Schiphol director

18/1 Palestine at the Jewish Historical Museum

18/1 What is the right size for a district?

17/1 PvdA Oost against fewer districts

16/1 Committee: 7 districts by 2010

15/1 Soldiers may attend Afghanistan debate after all

15/1 Bait bike leads to arrest

14/1 Youth for Christ to republish vacancies

13/1 Paintings of the Zuidas

13/1 New Youth for Christ contoversy

11/1 Social cohesion initiative raises eyebrows

10/1 Fewer districts in 2010

10/1 Zuidas: People feel that we are losers

9/1 Fun on the ice - but not for all

9/1 Supermarket coupon fraud thwarted

9/1 I Amsterdam must remain exclusive

8/1 Use term Apartheid in every discussion

8/1 No city kiosk in Amsterdam yet

7/1 Snow

7/1 Fatima Elatik to run Zeeburg

7/1 Municipal managers to return to shop floor

4/1 Police: take photo of strange people

3/1 Gaza protest criticises politicians

1/1 Thousands to protest against attacks on Gaza

1/1 Mustapha Laboui leaves district council


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Riva site: the hatchet has been buried

18 February 2006 – Tuesday 28 February, Minister Donner and Alderman Stadig will come to De Baarsjes to symbolically start the construction of the Westermoskee, at the site of the former Riva garage. This marks the end of almost fifteen years of conflict, during which the district has seriously considered deploying anti-riot police.

During the early nineteen nineties, the Turkish Islamic Milli Görüs organisation became interested in acquiring the Riva site. This would solve the yearly problem of finding a place to celebrate Ramadan. Further, the organisation was looking for a place to organise youth activities.

Soon, the organisation found district chairman Freek Salm on its path. He wanted to use the location for luxury housing, which would make the neighbourhood more diverse. Further, he warned that a ‘Turkish bulwark’ might come into existence. As he would put it later: “if it would go wrong, because of the position of minorities in this country, then it will become a bulwark of fundamentalists and we will have to fight extremists there”.

Especially in Germany, Milli Görüs has a reputation for being a reactionary organisation. In the Netherlands, it presents itself as an organisation that wants to build bridges and stimulate integration. Opponents label it as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but the secret service never found indications to support that view.

In 1994, Milli Görüs wanted to use the Riva site to celebrate Ramadan, but the district refused to give permission. The organisation’s leader Üzeyir Kabaktepe responded as follows in the Nieuws van de Dag: because of Salm’s refusal, “we are doomed to celebrate our faith on the street. As a protest, we may as well do that on the doorstep of the district office”.

Sure enough, three hundred Turkish men gathered at the Mercatorplein, and went to the district office to perform their prayers there. Not much later, the organisation occupied a warehouse at the Riva site.

The district requested police assistance to evict the occupants. Commissioner Visser saw how things were escalating, and decided not to go along. “Immediately, I said spontaneously: you can forget about it, we are not going to do that. This is about a zoning plan, a thing made of paper”. The Commissioner was not willing to jeopardise community relations for that.

Meanwhile, the district tried to play apart the Milli Görüs following and the rest of the residents. After a public inquiry, a district alderman said that it was a pity “that those people are afraid to speak their mind”. “Apparently, he finds it difficult to believe that the Turks’ plans do not incite massive neighbourhood resistance”, the Parool newspaper commented.

Milli Görüs did manage to mobilise its following. Thousands of people participated in two protest marches. Further, over sixteen hundred signatures were collected, and followers attended public inquiries in huge numbers.

However, mediation also started to get off the ground. Especially, all kinds of prominent social-democrat party members became involved in efforts to find a solution. In the end, they managed to cook up a solution that all involved parties could agree with without losing face too much.

Ironically, at a later stage neighbourhood residents did start to protest against the new mosque, which in their eyes was going to be too large-scale. Even more ironically, protests were led by Marie-Louise Boel, who had earlier been involved in the conflict as a district alderman.

The conflict with the neighbourhood residents was solved as well through negotiations, compromises, and financial compensation. The last matter of disagreement – the height of the minaret – was recently decided by an independent committee. At last, construction can start. This way, a special solution is created for a special place, as the committee put it.

Source: Flip Lindo (1999), Heilige wijsheid in Amsterdam: Ayasofia, stadsdeel De Baarsjes en de strijd om het Riva-terrein. Het Spinhuis.

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