The Moroccan-born Muslim mayor of Rotterdam is making waves with an interview on CNN this week, where he called on his fellow Muslim immigrants to accept Western values and reject extremism.
In his rather blunt comments, Ahmed Aboutaleb explained that Dutch values are not negotiable.
“The Dutch constitution but also the Dutch society is constructed in very, very interesting basic value and that is tolerance and acceptance,” he told CNN’s Michael Holmes. “So the moment you come to the Netherlands, wherever from all over the world and you get a citizenship, then you have to at least underline and embrace the constitution and the values of the country.”
When asked if it might be “superficial” to tell people to “pack their bags and leave” if they don’t like Western culture, Aboutaleb didn’t skip a beat:
“It’s a free choice — be with us, work with us together to construct a ‘we’ society. But if you want to [reject] the ‘we’ community, you threaten us, you go to Yemen to learn how to use a Kalashnikov and to come back to [civilized] society, well, you are not part of my ‘we’ society. You’d better leave.”
I know how it is to be a product of poverty, and I cannot accept that poverty leads to terrorism. Poverty must lead to a [seeking of] knowledge, to sciences, to be better, to climb on the social ladder. It’s about investing in yourself — first of all — and by doing that, you invest in society. And that’s the message I try to give to these people, yes, indeed. I’m not only a mayor of a city, but I’m also Muslim and that gives me maybe the additional authority to say these things that maybe other colleagues of mine in Europe and maybe in the U.S. are not maybe authorized to say.
Aboutaleb first made news in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, where he addressed extremists, saying “if you do not like it here because humorists you do not like make a newspaper, may I then say you can f*ck off.”
Watch the full CNN interview in the video below: