I still associate expressing your opinion with danger
The Netherlands is not only known for its cows, cheese and tulips. Also because of freedom. The right to express your opinion is most widely used in the Netherlands. Demonstrating, protesting, actions and stakes are very common here. The government then sits down with the campaigners and thinks along how they can still make the people within the law happy. It is a right that really exists. If groups want to stand against each other, the police are there to steer it in the right direction. You can say anything but not fight.
When the mayor of Arnhem Ahmed Marcouch was installed, I wanted to be present at the ceremony to welcome him. I liked him, because when we went to the Lower House with our integration class, he was the only one who came to greet us. On the way to the town hall, I ended up among people who demonstrated against him as mayor. They had hate texts and flags against him as a person and as a Muslim.
I had written some welcome words for the mayor, but when I saw the demonstrators, I threw away my paper. I was sad and scared. I was afraid they would discover that I was for the mayor. That the police would shoot and a revolution would arise. In Syria, a revolution starts exactly that way. I went home without welcoming Marcouch.
I still associate expressing your opinion with danger. Demonstration requires prison, dismissal means strike. Welcoming a mayor who is not loved might mean that I have to go back to Syria.
Although I am always told that this is not the case in the Netherlands, I am afraid of a line after my name. “Anwar, we have to keep an eye on that.”