Appearing Thursday on CNN International, Muslim mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb defended his comments that Muslims in the Netherlands should accept and conform to Dutch culture, or get out. (VIDEO: Muslim CNN Guest: ‘Bigotry And Racism’ Behind Criticism Of Islam)
ABOUTALEB: You know, the Dutch constitution but also the Dutch society is constructed in very, very interesting basic value and that is tolerance and acceptance. 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.
We are a diverse country; my city has 154 nationalities. And that means that the rule of law is above everyone. Whatever your conviction is, whatever your religion is, whatever your sexual behavior, the acceptance and tolerance is really a very important thing.
HOST MICHAEL HOLMES: I’f 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 our society. You are not forced to be with us; it’s a choice. And that’s what I said to people. I’m not forcing anyone to get out of the ‘we society.’ It’s a free choice. Be with us; work with us together to construct a ‘we society.’ But if you want to send out of the we community, you threaten us, you go to Yemen to learn how to use a Kalashnikov and to come back to threaten society, well, you are not part of my ‘we society.’ You’d better leave.