Breach of Trust, which has not been resolved over a year later. This is how six Councils of Al-Mir Mosques describe their relationship with the municipality of Al-Mir. The sick relationship arose at the end of 2021, when the NRC published a story whose consequences can still be felt today. An overview of a frosty relationship.
Walk to the mosque, NRC headlines for Saturday, October 16, 2021. The paper reveals that several Dutch municipalities are conducting secret investigations into mosques. The organizations studied have known nothing for years.
Results end up in a confidential report. It explains what mosque directors, imams and teachers have studied. It was also determined who is associated with whom, with whom they are fighting, and how often they have been in contact with the Moroccan authorities, for example.
According to the experts with whom the newspaper spoke, this method is prohibited. Researchers for the reporting agency, NTA, do not identify themselves as such in mosques.
When the NRC raises questions about confidential reports, municipalities distance themselves from them. Almir informs the newspaper that they are about to conduct an investigation, and he is disappointed that the working methods are now being exposed. We regret that this article may affect the reliability of data that has not yet been collected.
After the publication of the NRC article, the municipality of Almere was quick to “categorically distance itself from it”. Although an investigation into extremism has been launched in Al Miri, it does not specifically target mosques and Islamic extremism. Left, right, and environmental extremism is also being investigated, so is the message. In addition, the NTA research agency in Almere would have gone no further than an “exploratory phase”. Specific institutions and people were not targeted.
Mosques deeply disappointed
Despite the municipality’s denial and weakening, mosque councils indicate that they are deeply disappointed in the course of action. There is also a surprise. The mosque councils say that they are on good terms with the municipality until that moment. There are regular consultations four times a year and there are also many informal contacts. The NRC article is causing a huge dent in confidence.
This does not apply to the Beit Al-Afiyat mosque in Almere Port: “We have no objection, and we are not disappointed with the actions of the municipalities. The municipality has the right to stay informed of what is going on in various groups to maintain peace and security,” said Imam Siddiqui in October 2021. .
Mayor Frank Wierwind, who is in charge of this issue, invited mosque councils for discussion. But this invitation was rejected.
At the time, the mapping of extreme influences in Almyra was only in its infancy, according to Weerwind. This is my desk research. “The next stage is a field investigation. Then they have talks and interviews, but they also have to identify themselves.”
No matter how strict Werwind’s denials, confidence in cooperation with the municipality had completely disappeared from the mosque councils. This will be reinforced in 2022 when documents are released showing how things have been at City Hall in recent years.
In 2016, for example, the municipality requested a quote “for mapping religious and ideological infrastructure within Muslim communities.”
Doubts and restraint
It seems that in the middle of 2017, the Mayor of Weerwind had serious doubts about whether or not to conduct such network analysis. “Frank noticed that there were drawbacks to implementing this viewing process,” says an interview report. Werwind points to the dangers of disrupting the relationship with the Islamic community.
It was decided to postpone the investigation until further notice. Because there is no immediate reason to implement them now.” However, there is a “network manager” for the NTA research agency active in Almere. “He will make an initial inventory. If there is a reason after the first inventory, we can still do an analysis.”
What Werwind feared: the troubled relationship with the Muslim community became a reality. Although Al-Miri says that she did not, in fact, carry out covert operations in mosques.
“Confidence comes on foot and walks on horseback”
At the end of last year, November 2022, that turbulent relationship became clearly visible in the Meir Majlis Hall. It will be an evening dedicated to Councilor Hassan Boyatoi, who will receive heavy criticism from Council members after it was revealed that he shared incorrect information in a tweet.
The commotion around Buyatui completely overwhelmed two speakers who were given time in the early evening to tell their story. First of all, Fariz Akkoh speaks. He is the President of the Federation, the Alliance of Islamic Organizations.
“All the mosques and the municipality held regular consultations on various issues. We also had discussions with community police officers and various officials,” Akwa recalled in his speech. All these talks have stopped since October 2021. “Everything has been denied. This Muslim community has hit hard. They feel abandoned and see themselves as third-class citizens. It’s hard to find trust in the municipality.” Akkoh sums it up by quoting an aphorism. “Confidence comes with walking and walking on horseback.”
The second speaker is Qasem Tekin who mainly speaks on behalf of Al-Mir Muslim Youth. It’s fierce too. “We were first told it wasn’t about Muslims, but about extremism in its entirety. I now have a very thick document full of evidence that it was indeed targeting Muslims.”
“This Muslim community has been hit hard”:
The ministry is trying to restart the conversation again
Not only in Almere, but also in other municipalities, the relationship between the Muslim community and the city council has been disrupted by the NRC story.
The Ministry of Social Affairs is now trying to play a mediating role in order to normalize relations again. However, many mosque councils do not like this conversation. Not even the mosques in Almere. The call for a meeting on January 24 was declined.
Thus, a solution to the dishonesty is not yet in sight.