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‘These are my women, mister’

Alex van Veen

16 June 2007 - At the square in front of City Hall, a few hundred people have assembled, mainly children with their parents. Protest signs, speeches and showing of Dutch flags. It appears to be a protest against the closure of three Islamic elementary schools in Amsterdam-Noord.

In a statement, the parents claim that the government is waging a smear campaign against the children’s massive enrolment in an Islamic school in de Baarsjes.

I am greeting my former Ravage Magazine colleague, Hans Foto. He is taking out his camera too. Just when I want to take a photograph, a man covers the lens with his hand. “You can't take pictures here”, the man says in a resolute voice. “Excuse me?”, I reply. “You can't take pictures here”, he repeats. “Yes I heard you, but I am at a public demonstration, and I will take all the pictures I want”, I explain to the man, who poses as the organiser of the protest.

I ask him for the reason of his behaviour. “These are my women, mister”, he replies resolutely. He'd wish, I think, and for a moment I am baffled. He asks me what I am taking pictures for, and makes a gesture as if to say ‘don’t pull my leg, man’ when I drop the name Ravage. We argue a bit more, and finally he asks me what kind of society I want to live in. “A democratic one, mister, and I would like to keep it that way”, I reply, after which the man slinks off.

Originally published at Ravage Digitaal


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