If it were up to the Mayor of Eindhoven, John Jorritsma, there would be no more Pegida demonstrations at the city’s mosques.
From now on, the anti-Islam movement will only be allowed on Stadhuisplein. Not at a single mosque. “Over my dead body”, Jorritsma told the City Council on Tuesday evening.
The Mayor received full support from local political parties for the way he has dealt with the turmoil surrounding Pegida in Eindhoven. In recent months, Pegida has repeatedly asked for permission to demonstrate at the Al Fourqaan mosque. This mosque is in Woensel.
At the end of May, this led to riots, after provocation by Pegida and the arrival of counter-protestors. To prevent new disturbances, Jorritsma forbade Pegida from demonstrating at the mosque again. He admitted he was struggling with a dilemma: allowing freedom of speech or guaranteeing public safety.
Parties including the VVD, D66, GroenLinks, and SP were full of praise for Jorritsma’s conduct. “These are difficult choices he has to make. Dilemmas. He weighed them up for good balance and acted in its best interest”, says D66 Councillor, Jorien Migchielsen.
The CDA (Christian Democrats) suggested a single place to be allocated for all demonstrations in Eindhoven. This is to prevent situations such as with Pegida, but also the out-of-control Kick Out Zwarte Piet protest. “Stadhuisplein is suitable for this. Large groups can gather at the Malieveld. Emergency personnel and the police can also be on hand here if something happens”.
However, this idea received little support, even from the CDA. Most parties thought it was too drastic. Jorritsma did not agree with it either. He wants to keep considering each case. He will then decide if it is possible to demonstrate at a specifically requested location.
“If you are against Eindhoven Airport, you would like to demonstrate there too. If something like that does not lead to traffic problems or possible disturbances, we must continue to allow it”, says the Mayor.
Editor: Melinda Walraven