— Gooi en Eemlander (@gooieneemlander) June 2, 2017
Stones are thrown at buses, bus stops are vandalised, cars are set on fire or overthrown. Heavy fireworks are set off and the police are perpetually too late to arrest anybody. It is Ramadan, and Dutch cities are in the grip of a series of ‘unrelated incidents‘ involving Muslim youths.
Tülay van Akken-Addens, owner of the car above, says:
“I’m not allowed to think this, let alone say it out loud, I’m doing it anyway. Of course this has everything to do with ramadan.” (…) My business is ruined. I started a garage with my husband last year and this was the loaner for our customers. I have to pay for this out of pocket.“
Out of terror, people refuse to give out their names, but they are unanimous: since the Ramadan started, nuisance has turned into violence. Just like last year. They are not the only ones. In the night this car was turned over, three others were thrown on their side in the East-Side of Hilversum alone. Last year, the situation was much the same, with cars getting torched as well. According to Mayor Pieter Broertjes, Muslim youths in this period are active until deep in the night, because they are only allowed to eat after sundown.
A member of a local mosque in Haarlem claims that Muslim youths experience Ramadan radically different from the way he does:”They come to the mosque for a short while, for the last prayer, so they can go out into the streets together after.”
The Haarlem municipality, meanwhile, responds in an email to Dutch newspaper Telegraaf by stressing it would rather not see “negative framing of a subject where this would be out of order,” when it comes to the multicultural district Schalkwijk, as extra police is necessary for the whole of Haarlem.
Kachem Achahboun, coordinator of a mosque-based neighbourhood watch group is saddened by the unrest in the district. He understands why the connection with Ramadan is made,
“but it could also be someone trying to discredit muslims.“
The police is also reticent to make the connection:
“I realise one would notice [a connection], but we don’t want to stigmatise. We really question the link between the carfires and ramadan.“
The Haarlem municipality is just as careful not to stigmatise. Even though it has indicated previously it suspected a rise in ‘incidents’ during the Ramadan and there is “every reason to continue the activities we have already started,” it is unwilling to call a spade a spade.