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‘Ties with Morocco bad for integration’

7 August 2007 - Geuzenveld district chairman Robin de Bood is investigating ways to strengthen ties with Moroccan cities. The VVD fears that this will have a negative impact on the integration of Moroccan residents of the district.

Last Sunday, De Bood fired the starting shot at a marathon in the Northern Moroccan town of Asilah, taking place at Emigrant’s Day. The event was organised by the Asilah and the Future Association. Many members of this organisation live in Geuzenveld.

Michèl Tromp, party leader of the VVD, now wants the district administration to explain in what way district residents are supposed to benefit from the initiative. In addition, he is concerned that it may have a negative impact on integration: “If you continuously emphasize: you are immigrants, then that is not helping”, Tromp said. “Question is: how do you make people feel Dutch”.

From Morocco, De Bood said he understands the VVD’s concern, but that it is not necessary in his eyes. “By strengthening contacts, you can fight stigmatisation”.

De Bood is investigating ways to strengthen the ties with Moroccan cities, but wants to avoid town twinning arrangements. “Then you just get a lot of protocol”.

He does want to encourage organisations to engage in practical collaborative projects. For example, Studio West might organise cultural exchange activities, and the NOVA College already has exchange activities.

Asilah is interested in Geuzenveld’s experience with collecting recyclable waste, and Casablanca in Amsterdam’s experience with district administration. For his part, De Bood is interested in the way in which issues such as women’s and gay emancipation and alcohol and drug use are discussed in Moroccan cities.

Geuzenveld already has ties with Asilah and Casablanca. After an official visit to Asilah in 2000, former district chairwoman Miep van Diggelen married its vice-mayor.

Earlier this year, ethnic minority women runners from Geuzenveld participated in a race in Casablanca. The initiative was subsidised by the district. In addition, the women had raised money through a sponsored walk and Queen’s Day activities.

Tromp, who emphasizes he has nothing against international contacts, has his doubts about the subsidy for this initiative. “Why would they have to go to Casablanca to run? Geuzenveld is the greenest district, why couldn’t they do it here?”

That activities will be organised in 2009 to celebrate the historic ties between New York and the Netherlands, is something different in his eyes. “That goes back so many generations. New Yorkers may be proud of their Dutch forefathers, but they are one hundred percent American”.

Illustration: Asilah, photo Wikipedia

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