It was an emotional gathering at Tarieq Ibnoe Ziyad, the local Islamic primary school. Many had gathered here after the attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Muslims, as well as non-Muslims, gathered to share in their fear, anger, and grief. They also gathered to discuss the way forward. Eindhoven’s Mayor, John Jorritsma and a number of City Councillors were also present.
The school’s hall was overflowing. People sat on steps and stood in the corridors. The school’s principal, Jeanne van der Voort, was visibly upset. Mayor Jorritsma said he hoped everyone would still feel welcome in Eindhoven, despite what happened in Christchurch. Hafid Bouteibi, who organised the event, then gave members of the audience a chance to have their say.
“I don’t understand why you would be shot dead while you are praying,” said a youngster, causing many to tear up. Nobody had an answer to that.
Fence around the school?
The question of safety in one that concerns many of those in attendance. Why is nothing being done about the source, someone asked. “I don’t want it to be normal to attack Muslims,” they said. Others worry about the children’s safety at school. “Will the school be fenced in? Will the mosques get extra security?”
Jeanne van der Voort does not believe this is the answer. “Safety is not in gates,” she said. “We had those in Uden but, in the long run, these only created a feeling of insecurity. Safety is found in a network of people working together.” Van der Voort used to be the principal at an Islamic primary school in Uden. A fire was started at this school.