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Aboutaleb ideal partner for Christian-Democrats

23 January 2007 - The Social-Democrat alderman Ahmed Aboutaleb focuses his anti-poverty policy on families with children and he is a ‘rabid right-winger’ when it regards teenage mothers, he said yesterday at a meeting at the Rode Hoed. He posed as the ideal minister for a Christian-Social government.

The Rode Hoed is organising a series of meetings on the future of Amsterdam, at which the city’s aldermen get to defend their plans. The first meeting featured Aboutaleb. “You may as well have him now”, said presenter Ruben Maes, alluding to rumours that Aboutaleb will become a minister in a new Christian-Social government.

The mayor emphasised once more that it is far from certain that he will go to The Hague and that he does not feel like he has to. “In Amsterdam, I have a job that quite a few ministers are jealous of”. Still, his political priorities seem to fit well with collaboration with the Christian parties that the Social-Democrats are trying to form a government with.

One of his priorities is ‘children first’. For example, low-income families with children receive additional money for a computer, school books, the school bus, culture and sports. These bonuses can add up to 2,000 euro per family, the alderman said. For families who live on social assistance, that is a quite substantial amount.

Aboutaleb not only wants to give support, but he also wants to interfere in how parents raise their children. In doing so, one should not be afraid of paternalism or ‘state education’, he said. The government must not be too eager to interfere in families, but sometimes one has to save children ‘from the claws of ignorance of their parents’.

Jack van Midden, spokesperson of a foundation that deals with problem youth, gave an example of this approach. If kids make a nuisance of themselves on the streets, his team goes to the parents. “You are going to make sure that your son does not come home late”, they are told.

Aboutaleb further wants to deal with problems related to teenage mothers, addicted mothers and prostitution. A member of the audience said he should not lump these issues together: “in my culture, it is no problem if young girls become mothers”. Aboutaleb wanted nothing of it. He boasted being a ‘rabid right-winger’ in this respect.

Malica al Fahmi of the Bureau of Social Development (BMO) found that there should be an assumption of good will on the part of the parents. “Everybody wants his child to become a doctor, who does not”.

Photo: Claudia Dohm


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