Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

Dutch Diplo Talk

‘Enjoy freedom of expression or get the hell out’

13 Feb 2015

Mayor Aboutaleb

The White House will host a summit next week on countering violent extremism while highlighting homegrown terrorism in an international context. It will deal with the radicalization, recruiting and inspiring of individuals or groups to commit acts of violence, such as those that took place in Ottawa, Sydney, and Paris, and to travel to Syria and Iraq to take part in the war.

An understandable response would be that western countries — although still in favor of free travel and free exchange of information — want to give their intelligence services much wider authority to stay in control. These services will look at two mega data centers: Silicon Valley and Amsterdam-South. Experts have already announced that as a result, data will be stored in different places around the world.

On April 16-17, 2015, a Global CyberSpace Conference will take place in the Hague where government officials from around the world discuss ways they can combine safe ways of doing business, and protect people from threats to their privacy and criminal activities. At the same time, countries are looking for ways to use data for their political goals.

This conference could appear to be more complex than the global conferences on nuclear safety last year and climate change end of this year.

One of the cities in the United States that takes the lead in addressing the issue of extremism in a different way is Los Angeles. By integrating education administrators, mental health professionals, religious leaders, and law enforcement agencies, Mayor Eric Garcetti tries to work with local communities to prevent radicalized youngsters from traveling to Syria and Iraq and returning to Los Angeles with battlefield training.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb recently became famous in the US with his statement, shortly after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, that young Muslims who are not able to enjoy the freedom of expression and refuse to integrate should “get the hell out of here.” His concern is that right-wing extremists will persuade moderate citizens of Rotterdam to punish and denigrate the well-meaning Muslims who make up 13 percent of his city’s population.

Mayor Aboutaleb will arrive this week in Los Angeles for another reason: to lead a business delegation of water companies working together to restore the LA River and clean up the Port of LA. For him it is important to know that he is working on the same cause as his colleague, Mayor Garcetti:  the integration of all parts of the communities into their cities.

This blog was posted earlier in Hugo’s Weekly.

Share Button

About the author

Hugo Von Meijenfeldt
Written by Hugo Von Meijenfeldt

Consul-General in San Francisco

Hugo von Meijenfeldt was appointed as representative for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the 13 westernmost United States in August 2013.

Prior to his current position, Hugo was Deputy Director General at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. He also served as Special Envoy for Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2009 until 2013. In this capacity, he led Dutch participation in global diplomatic activities to reach a climate agreement.

Previously, Hugo was Director for Soil, Water and Rural Environment. For several years he held the position of Deputy Director for International Affairs, Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Policy of UN-ECE Geneva, and Head of the European Policy Division (including the EU Presidency in 1997). From 1982 until 1991, he was Legal Counsel to the soil clean-up division.

Hugo earned his Masters in Public Law and Policy at the Free University in Amsterdam in 1981. He is member of the WorldConnectors and the Sustainability Challenge Foundation.