The Rotterdam department of political parties Christenunie (Christian Union) and SGP (Reformed Political Party) organized a debate on integration in the Essalam mosque in the city, the biggest mosque in the Netherlands. One of the invitees was conservative and former PVV (Party for Freedom – known for its harsh criticism on Islam) Bart Jan Spruyt.
Adjunct-director Jacob van der Blom received a lot of angry messages. How could he allow this in a mosque?
But he believes that connection can only occur from within people themselves. When you work with organizations and politicians subsidies play a big role and they make achieving the purpose (almost) impossible. Van der Blom wants to facilitate conversations, without telling people how they should do this exactly.
He thinks he is the right person to facilitate this conversations. As a convert to Islam he knows both the Islamic as the Rotterdam community very well. After the attacks in Paris he opened the mosques doors for these conversations. But besides that, he wants to contribute with the mosque to the neighbourhoods well-being. However according to him religion is not the way to connect people: “Muslims pray with Muslims and Christians pray with Christians”. This is why, for example, he wants Muslims to help in retirements houses and that people will eat together in the mosque.
He doesn’t want to ‘create’ perfect Muslims, but decent human beings.