Almost a week ago someone tried to fire bomb a Dutch mosque in Enschede. Fortunately only minor damages and the perpetrator was caught and charged with attempted arson with terrorist intent. This Friday the mosque responded with an open letter on its Facebook page. Here is the text (my translation)
Dear fire bomber,
Last Saturday, before you threw the fire bomb, did you think about the fact that maybe our sons and daughters were playing an innocent game where you wanted to throw the fire bomb? Moreover, do you know that 90 seconds before a few children were walking there (the footage of the security camera speaks for itself)?
Did you want to instill fear or make our neighbours turn against us for what you did? Than answer is a twofold NO!
On the contrary, through good ‘Noaberschop’ you were arrested by the police (who acted swiftly and adequately). Because our neighbours (of whom IVEO and its members are very proud) who do care for the well being of our children and our house of prayer, showed what it means to be a good neighbour last Saturday. Our neighbours know that IVEO and its members also care for the well being and properties of our neighbours, whether they are Muslim or not.
The action of our neighbours confirms more than ever that our path of reconcilliation, transparency and being part of society is the right one. This gives us energy to go on with more courage and strength and therefore definitely without fear. The supporting words of the Enschede municipality and the many positive emails and letters we have received from Muslims, non-Muslims and civic society organisations (for your understanding, even from a former citizen of Enschede now living in Great Brittain) confirm our path even more. We will not be stopped by your coward act.
Despite all the hate that is being spread at the moment and that most likely influenced you to cause a rif in society, IVEO and its neighbours show an alternative way: good ‘Noaberschop’.
We hope your action will lead to many people in the Netherlands to join and also practice this good ‘Noaberschop’ and that much ignorance will be taken away by it.
Despite your horrific act Islam teaches us to be merciful. Because we are convinced that this fear for Islam, which you probably have, could have been taken away. Our doors at IVEO are always open for a talk for everyone.
We thank the Lord that we can kiss our children today before they go to sleep. Because if you had thrown the fire bomb several minutes earlier, then…
IVEO and her members do not expect anything less from the municipality, police and public prosecutor than the necessary measures to be taken to prevent such serious and coward acts in the future.
*noaberschop is the local, eastern Dutch, variant of the Dutch word ‘nabuurschap’ which means so much as to be a good neighbour and the duties that come with it. It used to be a very extended and extensive form of helping your neighbours and is still taken to be a core dimension of local identity.