(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)
There is a button in Rotterdam; a picture of a man with the following text in a circle around: depastorize Rotterdam. The man is a local city council from the Leefbaar Rotterdam party. The text is coined by his name: Marco Pastors.
He is one of many who shot to the surface after the murder of Pim Fortuyn. They were good friends, the two of them. Pastors were Pim Fortuyn's protégé and close associate in their shared hometown. They had the same message for the multicultural, but increasingly nervous Netherlands: this country is full. There are too many immigrants, too much crime, and too many politicians who never listen to the voters neither on these issues nor anyone else.
It was a message that hit the voters in 2002. The Pim Fortuyn list gained 26 seats in the national parliament and formed government with the Liberal and Christian Democrats. But by that time, Fortuyn was already dead. The party collapsed and the government withdrew. The new elections in January of the following year sent Lijst Pim Fortuyn straight to the boat. Or almost. Many were the ones who were relieved when the populist balloon exploded and the vomit success of the previous year was reduced to eight seats.
It was a victory for the moderates with several tastes. For Pim Fortuyn's ideas were not dead. And in Rotterdam, the local party of the party was in its second year as the largest party in the city government.
City Councilor Marco Pastors is in many ways the one who fronts the populist anti-immigrant party Leefbaar Rotterdam locally. Leefbaar – which means livable. Making Rotterdam livable means for Pastors making the city whiter. It is a racial position, although it is not said out loud. And those who have these views sit today and govern one of the largest cities in the Netherlands.
Initially, they try as best they can to curb Islam and its minarets.
- Architecture in itself is never hostile. But what it represents can be. In this case, we have an external form that imposes on us a completely different culture. This form, with its physical representation of a foreign culture, is simply not good for the further integration of this city.
Pastors compare the new mosques to something from an amusement park. A little sweet to watch in Disneyland. But nothing nice to meet in large, open spaces outside Rotterdam. As city councilor for physical infrastructure, he has worked for three years to get the Essalam mosque into an "integration-friendly" concept. That battle is now lost, he admits.
- People in Rotterdam do not understand why these mosques are built. And they are absolutely right. For this mosque would never have been erected if the Muslims had been treated like everyone else. This building was and is in violation of all regulations and city plans. The Labor Party chose to ignore this, and thus sent the following message to the white inhabitants of Rotterdam: that blacks and Muslims have a precedence in this city. If you are not black, or if you are not a Muslim, then you will be treated worse. That was the message from the previous administration.
Pastors say he had two options after the electoral victory that led Leefbaar Rotterdam into the city government. One was to do nothing, because everything was determined by the predecessors. The second was to establish a dialogue with the Moroccan community building the mosque.
- I wanted to ask them: are you really sure that this architecture is for the best for this society? And to begin with, we received signals that they might be willing to discuss this. But then they suddenly appeared on local TV with a lot of weird claims that we were trying to force them to change their building plans. I denied it all and told what had happened. But the dialogue, and the attempts to work with the Muslims on this issue, were put to death as a result of this scheme, says Pastors.
- It is, frankly, a little difficult to understand that a single mosque is perceived as such a big problem ..
- But it's not just the mosque as such. That is what it does to the Muslim community. Firstly, I believe that problems are being created for Muslims themselves by allowing them to build mosques that ordinary people do not like. Secondly, it gives Muslims a sense of superiority: look at us, they say. We are doing very well in this country.
- But they do not do well, do they? The fact is that immigrants, and especially Muslim immigrants, are more criminal than others. And then we have the whole question related to forced marriage… They do not do well at all. The picture as a whole is not positive at all.
- All in all, I think the construction of large mosques with tall minarets gives Muslims a false sense of satisfaction. That's why I'm glad I took up this case. Even if we did not succeed, we have at least told this city that something was wrong with the policies pursued earlier. Now people know that we do not want to favor religion.
- Much of the controversy has been about the height of the minarets. Where do you think the border goes here?
- It's not so much about minarets, really. It is about the fact that this religion, for example, has a view of women that we can not accept. On the day women and men pray in the same room, they may well build mosques with hundred-meter-high minarets for me. What we have said to Muslims is that we must first discuss Islam in terms of integration. Then we can start talking about other things, says Pastors.
Integration is a process, he says. It is natural in a global world that people flow from poor areas to riches. But this immigration should happen gradually. The problem today is that the whole situation has gotten out of control.
- So you agree with the claim that the Netherlands is full?
- The big cities are full. They are stretched to the limit of what they can endure. Those who believe that the Netherlands, and especially the cities, should accept more immigrants are the same people who do not want them themselves. Rotterdam is one of the cities that should not let in more people with non-Western backgrounds. We already have 37 percent immigrants, and most are from poor countries – with all the problems it entails.
Paradoxically, Marco Pastors uses lower numbers for the number of immigrants in Rotterdam per year. 2020 than many others. 48 percent in 15 years, he says. He draws comparisons to other cities. Berlin, which has 27 percent in some districts. Vienna, with its 16 percent. It provides an argument for Leefbaar Rotterdam to change the ethnic composition of the city. They want the white middle class in, or alternatively make them stay, while keeping new immigrants out.
- We represent people in Rotterdam, and they say that enough is enough. So we have to do something. We need to look at the things that are actually increasing the number of immigrants in this city, and that is the birth rate and family reunification. 60 percent of immigrants in Rotterdam marry people from their home country. This means that the birth rate stays higher than in the rest of society, says Pastors.
It's the Muslims he thinks of. And he doesn't hide exactly that. History never repeats itself, says Pastors. Where other minorities have slipped easily into Dutch society, this group will always remain on the outside. The differences in culture and way of life are simply too great.
- We are used to taking in poor immigrants from other parts of the world. It went well as long as it was about people with the same cultural background: Christians, of course, but also people from other religions who were not so different from us, or who were used to our values - such as Hindus.
- But Islam is a religion that is directed inwards, towards itself. It is not suitable for creating successful societies; the type of society that distributes wages and work equally among the population. Muslims think they are better than others. And that means it's more painful for them to be poor. This feature is reinforced by the fact that religion has a unique and organizational role in Muslim society.
What makes the contrast even greater, according to Pastors, is that the Netherlands is so liberal. Acceptance of homosexuality is high. Muslims, on the other hand, think homosexuality is a shame. – Such differences exist, and we should not deny them. This type of problem can only be solved by being clear about the framework that applies in this society.
- One can think that integration is a kind of automatic process that is about coming here, living here, learning the language, getting an education, getting a job and becoming self-sufficient. But this does not apply to very many people. We have second generation immigrants in this country who cannot yet speak Dutch. But we also have people who are very wealthy.
- These wealthy immigrants work in two ways. Either they become fully integrated in a short time and move out of the city. Or they stay here and defend the way of life of the non-integrated. They do not give them the kick in the butt they should have had. They do not tell them that this is a society where women cannot be locked up.
- That job is what we have to do, and I think we have the right to knock on every door and tell people how to behave. If this right is not legal, then it is at least moral.
The Dutch have an underlying set of values, says Pastors. And this set of values must be shared with the immigrants coming, he believes. For him, solidarity is something deeply ingrained in Christian culture. It's about rich people being responsible for the poor.
- This model is built into our societies. When Muslims establish themselves here, we give them both money and houses. But if we do not say to them: go out and get yourself a job, then they will eventually think that they can do really well in this country without contributing at all. We must tell them that they must take responsibility for their own lives.
- The truth about the others, says Pastors and uses exactly that expression – is that the women have started wearing veils again. This is one of many problems we have to tackle. We risk making mistakes along the way, and that is dangerous. But if we do things right, we may have the debate we need. Then we can begin to understand each other. But understanding does not go through denial. Therefore, we must stop denying that the gap is there.
- As long as 'Submission' can not be shown on TV, there is nothing right in this country, says Marco Pastors.
Ny Tid has chosen to let a number of voices from Rotterdam have their say in our columns. This means that we also present people with points of view distant from the newspaper's editorial line.