“I cannot accept that poverty leads to terrorism,” Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Muslim mayor of Rotterdam, told CNN Wednesday, taking issue with the Obama administration’s claims. “I know how it is to live in poverty. I spent 15 years in Morocco on one meal a day, walking without shoes… I know how it is to be a product of poverty.”
The mayor made headlines in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks when he said on a Dutch television program:
“It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom. But if you do not like freedom, in Heaven’s name pack your bag and leave. There may be a place in the world where you can be yourself. Be honest with yourself and do not go and kill innocent journalists.
And if you do not like it here because humorists you do not like make 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.”
He told Michael Holmes on CNN that he’s received thousands of emails praising his courageous words.
From Real Clear Politics:
HOLMES: If you don't like it here, leave, which was the real line that stuck out, of course. It resonates with many people. But could it be seen as a little superficial and unrealistic? If you don't like it, just go.
ABOUTALEB: Well, what I say to people is there are two things: when you become a member of our society and I said when I give passport to new citizens, that is not only a travel document. That is an identity. Then we request you and there is also a duty upon you to accept society as a whole.
And there are -- there is also a lot of variety in it.
But if you reject the society, you don't want to be member of what I call the we community and you reject the constitution and you reject the quality between people and you reject the freedoms, then it's up to you to examine whether you want to be with us.
There is also another choice and that is not to be with us and to leave -- to leave our society. You are not forced to be with us. It's a choice.”
“The Dutch constitution but also the Dutch society is constructed in very, very interesting basic value and that is tolerance and acceptance,” said Aboutaleb. “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.”
He added that if “you go to Yemen to learn how to use a Kalashnikov” and then want to come back to Western society, “You’d better leave.”