A World War Two memorial in the Baarsje (NL link), a burrough in Amsterdam city, removed because of construction work on the Wester mosque, will not be placed back. This decision was made after complaints from the Pakistani Muslim community, later supported by the Turkish and Morrocan muslim communities, about the ‘christian connotations’ of the memorial.
The memorial, a white marble cross, the words ‘Aan hen die vielen’ (‘To those who fell’) inscribed, is said to carry the memory of two Baarsjes citizen executed by the Nazis at the former spot of the memorial.
The burrough council is as yet unsure whether a new memorial will be placed where the old one was, but if it is the form of the memorial will be ‘more inclusive’ then the old one was, since the population of the Baarsjes has changed dramatically since the white cross memorial was first erected.
Truth be told: I wasn’t that opposed to the mosque. I don’t particularly like it, but the design (see below) was distinctly inspired by traditional Dutch design. It offered the promise of a Dutch islam, more democratic and yes, more tolerant. But this little episode immediately proves the naivite of my thinking. Just compare:
This is completely acceptable, no matter how much a lot of the original inhabitants of the area protested against the loss of the original character of the area
This, however, is a completely unacceptable, provincial expression of grief for persons standing up to tiranny.
So. This is ‘tolerance’ in the Netherlands these days. Protests against the rather megalomaniacal ideas for the Wester mosque/ethnic shopping centre/school/housing were ofcourse inspired by hugely intolerant xenophobia and islamophobia and can safely be ignored.
But the oh so tolerant protestations against a small white cross commemorating the darkest period of dictatorship the Netherlands has experienced in its history is immediately taken to heart. All hail the tolerance of the Pakistani, Turkish and Morrocan mosques involved in this sad episode. What would we have done, had they not so tolerantly pointed out to us the offensive nature of the memorial? Why, we would certainly have slid down a path towards a society where people are not tolerant of symbols of religions not theirs and the suppression of heartfelt need to remember that freedom is fragi… Hang on…
May I very tolerantly observe you have the right, nay the priviledge, to get the hell out of the country of me and my forebears to a place where being confronted with small white crosses is the least of your worries? You intolerant, obtrusive, petty schmucks.