How often do you hear of a (straight) politician going around advocating in favor of gay rights?
How about a Muslim politician advocating in favor of gay rights and promoting love & respect for one another?
Did you say none?
Well, Amsterdam City Councilman Ahmed Marcouch does that and much more!
He is also a strong advocate for freedom of religion, secularism, women's rights, the right to be an apostate, and speaks out against violence, extremism, antisemitism, holocaust denial, radical Islam and "Islamization" everywhere, among other things.
Ahmed Marcouch on Gay rights:
"It is necessary to confront this issue, to say that homosexuals are normal people like all of us and that we require them to be respected,"
"For cultural or religious reasons, some people reject homosexuals and compare them to animals,"
"They don't see homosexuals as humans. These people can be orthodox Christians, Muslims or immigrants,"
"I always say: your freedom to be an orthodox Muslim is the same as that of a homosexual to be homosexual,"
The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize homosexual marriage, in 2002.
If you've never heard of Ahmed Marcouch before, chances are you'll be hearing a great deal more about him, as he is about to embark on yet another journey in his young political career. As one of the candidates for Dutch Labor Party (PvdA), he'll be running for national election next month (June 9th).
More on Ahmed Marcouch in The New Yorker:
Would love to see other politicians be more like him.
Ahmed Marcouch - Memorial Day Speech 5/4/10
I feel greatly honored that the 4/5 May Committee Slotervaart has given me the opportunity to hold this Memorial Day speech. I do realize what this means. As a police officer, I have safeguarded Memorial Day for many years. As a District Mayor, I used to place the wreath. And now I have been given the privilege to hold this speech.
Wim Knol always opens his speech by citing Van Randwijk. I would like to continue that tradition, so I also start with the famous words:
"A nation that yields to tyrants,
will lose more than life and property,
then the light goes off... "
Officially, on May 4th, we remember all the victims since World War II, the victims of wars all over the world. Nevertheless, today, I want to focus on the Dutch Jews, gypsies, gays, and disabled who have been killed, as well as our slain people of the resistance and our fallen soldiers.
The Shoah is by far the biggest tragedy in our Dutch history. It has traumatized us till this day. The genocide committed on Jews has determined how we apply ourselves in defense of universal human rights, our need for freedom, and our stance towards well-meant multicultural ideals. We are still preoccupied by it.
I agree with Rabbi Evers that Germany is coping well with its past atrocities, and that the German government will always be welcome, except on Memorial Day, May 4th.
We should also remember and honor victims of present day wars every day, like the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Israel, and Palestine.
However, on May 4th, we remember the victims and the martyrs of World War II, especially the victims of the Shoah. Many survivors are still alive today, and as long as the lives of their children and grandchildren are still affected by it. How big of an impact on the lives of those who were born after the war, was reflected this past weekend by Ernst Hirsch Ballin, whose German-Jewish grandmother was killed. The Minister said: "my father has been sad all his life. I cherish the rare moments when he is cheerful".
Prior to the persecution of the Jews, systematic dehumanization and discrimination of this entire segment of the population took place and lasted at least ten years. That is why we are vigilant with regards to discrimination and especially antisemitism. That is an advantage. In this sense, we remember the sacrifices people made in order for us to have the freedom we have today, and we have to do everything possible to combat antisemitism.
Religious Jews like Rabbi Sebbag and Gideon van der Sluis travel by foot Sabbath, so on Saturdays, they walk from the "Rivierenbuurt" to the synagogue in "De Pijp". They tell us that people call them names like "Yahoud", and throw coins at them. Moroccan youngsters confirm that they have friends who do this.
It is absolutely unacceptable if Jews in Amsterdam cannot wear a yarmulke. We cannot play this down in any way shape or form, and we have to make a firm commitment to making sure that Jews can be themselves, under all circumstances.
Dehumanizing and alienating entire non-native segments of the population, however, doesn't work. That is unjust and barbarian. That is what we have learned from World War II.
From the dead, we have learned something even better. We have to distinguish the good from the bad, throughout our communities. We have to publicly express our solidarity with those who are good. Of course we report any form of antisemitism to the police.
At the same time, we have to fight antisemitism through education and through the way we raise our children.
First, the upbringing.
As a priority, parents should stop passing on antisemitic messages to their children, and they should no longer neglect objecting to antisemitism. It's a matter of empathy: "Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you!"
A crash course on empathy was given to Moroccan fathers from Amsterdam-Slotervaart in Auschwitz. They were especially shocked when they learned that Jewish prisoners were forced to take their fellow Jews to the gas chambers. As soon as they let this horrible atrocity sink in, our Moroccan fathers weren't able to sleep for days. They often shared this story with the people in New-West, even during the Gaza-war, when the members of their community were giving them the cold shoulder.
Men of the SSOP and others who visited Auschwitz, don't stop sharing this story, share it at schools, at our youth centers, and at the mosques. Talk about this with the women, because I think that our Moroccan mothers should also take a trip like that to Auschwitz an pass on their experience in their children's upbringing.
Teacher Mustapha went to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. The goal was to find ways in which he could educate his students about this subject.
I receive letters from teachers on a regular basis, who run into indifference or resistance from their students.
Teachers should not give in to that. It's part of their job to realize that their students are watching more TV programs via satellite dishes other than the regular news programs.
Aside from that, I want to suggest that the Shoah becomes a mandatory subject in school's history exams. Let us, parents and citizens, fight for that. I am very happy that Louis Bouwmeester Elementary School has adopted a memorial monument on Sierplein, around which they organize classes.
In facing wrongdoing, such as discrimination we stand courageous; Same way our soldiers and people of the resistance showed courage. Of course they saw the danger and felt the fear. Courage is evident when you overcome those. Thanks to their courage, we are able to celebrate freedom tomorrow.
It was time he left World War II behind him, that's what Max van Weezel wrote in his column, during Christmas:
"As a second generation war victim, I was fed up with memorial services, sad family stories, and holiday visits to memorial monuments". And then, his mother died. He had to clean out his parental home. There he found his mother's false identity card. She had to live as though she was someone else. Max's conclusion: "No matter how much I would want it to be, the war is not over yet, not by a long shot".
Religious scriptures state that the mourning process lasts for four generations. With our two minutes of silence, we mourn together.
A community is like a body - if one limb suffers, all others do.