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Mosque: mayor interferes

13 February 2007 - Mayor Job Cohen interferes to solve the problems surrounding the construction of the Westermoskee mosque in de Baarsjes. District chairman Arco Verburg did not face serious political problems tonight, but he will be kept on a short leash by his own PvdA (Social-Democrats).

Initiator Milli Görüs secretly signed a protocol saying that the mosque will become the property of the conservative German umbrella organisation. Verburg was confronted with this protocol by a journalist on 22 January, but did not inform the council.

Housing corporation Het Oosten, which is a participant in the project, threatened to suspend its collaboration with Milli Görüs. It only wants to do business with a progressive organisation. The two organisations have agreed to resume talks though.

Last week, Green Party GroenLinks asked Mayor Cohen to interfere, because of the importance of the project. During a meeting of the district council tonight, it became clear that he has indeed presided over meetings of Verburg, Het Oosten and Milli Görüs.

During the coming weeks, Arthur Verdellen, an official responsible for promoting social cohesion, will investigate what solutions may get the support of the parties involved. He will report to both Cohen and Verburg, by the end of last week at the latest.

The Conservative VVD and his own PvdA indicated that they will keep Verburg on a short leash. He may not take any initiatives during the coming weeks. When Verdellen’s investigation is finished, he will have to return to the district council to ask permission for further talks with Milli Görüs, PvdA party leader Martijn de Keizer said.

GroenLinks and Liberal-Democrat D66 said that developments within the Turkish community should not cause panic. German interference is undesirable, but one should not forget that the Vatican also interferes with Roman Catholics in the Netherlands, GroenLinks party leader Coos Hoebe pointed out.

See also: Mayor must save controversial mosque


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