Dutch school stalls Shoah memorial to avoid vandalism

THE HAGUE (JTA) — A school in a heavily Muslim neighborhood of The Hague delayed plans for a Holocaust monument over vandalism fears.

Gerard Brasjen, a spokesman for the Paul Kruger School, told JTA on Tuesday that the Christian-affiliated school’s board had discussed a plan to place a commemorative plaque on the school facade, but the plan stalled “not because of the Jewish-Muslim issue but because it may not be wise in the neighborhood, which is not a peaceful place.”

Before the Holocaust, the building of the Paul Kruger School, in the Schilderswijk neighborhood, housed the Joodsch Lyceum, a Jewish high school. Kruger was an Afrikaner national leader.

Last week, the De Telegraaf daily reported that the school dropped the plan following objections by local residents who said a Holocaust plaque might not be acceptable to some members of Schilderswijk’s sizable Muslim population, but Brasjen said he was not aware of such objections.

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, a Hague-based watchdog on anti-Semitism, wrote in a statement Monday that “it seems that the school feared there would be protests,” but “there is little reason to fear violence against memorial monuments for Jewish children in the area.”

Anat Harel, a co-organizer of a Holocaust commemoration event May 4 at the school, told De Telegraaf that a poster advertising the event could not be placed outside the building “because of concerns regarding kids hanging around the school.”

Following the publication, the anti-Muslim Party for Freedom asked Security and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten to research anti-Semitism among Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands.

The De Telegraaf report came on the heels of a story in the Trouw daily that said a part of the Schilderswijk neighborhood had turned into a “Sharia area,” where police dare not enter and non-Muslims are regularly harassed — claims that city officials have denied.

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