Utrecht police have been heavily criticised for labelling criminal suspects as being of “Moroccan” background following a number of street robberies which targetted children.
The city’s mayor, Jan van Zanen, came out late last week saying that he felt “regret” over the police use of the term saying, “in this case, the police could have omitted the word ‘Moroccan,'” broadcaster RTV Utrecht reports.
“It is not common to mention ethnicity in reports, except for missing people, where ethnicity is known and can help find a missing person, and the police strives to comply with what is as objective as possible,” he added.
Police claimed in their initial statement on the series of robberies that several of the suspects involved spoke in Moroccan street language while calling on the public to provide any useful information on the suspects.
The term “Moroccan” was initially slammed by the DENK party, a pro-migrant party which won three seats in the Dutch national parliament in 2017.
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Utrecht DENK Chairman Mahmut Sungur called on Mayor van Zanen to explain the use of the term asking the difference between Moroccan street language and regular street language and saying, “Does the mayor agree with us that these kinds of reports do not make sense and stigmatise?”
The pro-migrant party has had their fair share of controversies in the past including when MP Tunahan Kuzu said that native Dutch with concerns over “the changing face of the Netherlands, where different people from different backgrounds live together in a city like Zaandam or a neighbourhood like Poelenburg” should “get the hell out.”
The party is also known for advocating for the creation of a 1,000-man strong “racism police,” claiming in 2016 that too few people in the Netherlands were being prosecuted for racism and other forms of discrimination.