When Western politicians and pundits speak of moderate Muslims gaining more influence and using it to defeat the forces of extremism, Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb is the sort of leader they have in mind, and then some.
His comments after the Charlie Hebdo massacre sound like a wild dream of Islamic moderation come true, as reported by the UK Daily Mail:
Appearing on live television just hours after the shootings, Mayor Aboutaleb said Muslims who ‘do not like freedom can pack your bags and leave.’
Labour politician Ahmed Aboutaleb, a former journalist who was appointed mayor of the Dutch city in 2008, is known for his straightforward stance on integration.
The 53-year-old won the praise of London-mayor Boris Johnson over his comments last week attacking fellow Muslims who move to Western nations but refuse to accept the Western way of life.
‘It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom,’ Mayor Aboutaleb told Dutch current affairs program Nieuwsuur (Newshour).
‘But if you don’t like freedom, for heaven’s sake pack your bags and leave.’
‘If you do not like it here because some humorists you don’t like are making a newspaper, may I then say you can f*** off.
‘This is stupid, this so incomprehensible. Vanish from the Netherlands if you cannot find your place here. All those well-meaning Muslims here will now be stared at.’
Aboutaleb is not only Muslim, he is the son of an imam. There was some controversy during his political rise, because he holds dual citizenship in Morocco, but this does not seem to have affected his enthusiasm for assimilation with the adopted country he serves.
This is not the first time he has told immigrants to leave if they insist on seeing themselves as victims and refuse to integrate. There are not many native-born Western politicians who would defend their own civilization with the gusto displayed by Mr. Aboutaleb, even before he started dropping F-bombs.
The Daily Mail’s reference to being “appointed” mayor of Rotterdam might sound odd to American ears, but in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, it is standard practice for the national government to appoint mayors.