Scandal 2007

From William A. Percy
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Amsterdam, Feb. 11th 2007

Dear friends,

Here a lengthy report on my experiences over the last two weeks. As I work with many of you, I should like you to let know about my situation, the problems I got in, my perspective on the events and the main theme of the controversies: children and sex with a special focus on gay youngsters and pedophilia.

First a slightly changed article (removed some misunderstandings) that appeared Febr 3 in the Volkskrant on the scandal I am involved in (at the end the Dutch original) and secondly my summary of the events for Doug Ireland of the NY Gay City News.

The death threats I am the object of have become quite common in the Netherlands since the rise of Pim Fortuyn. We have seen 3 murders since, of Pim Fortuyn himself, very straight Theo van Gogh and Louis Seveke, a local activist from Nijmegen - accidentally also gay. The chance that I get murdered, is very small. The University has not forbidden to speak out (as the first article suggests) - but we agreed to limit my media presence to prevent further demonization. The controversial (speculative and ironic) quote that started all these insults and death threats, runs like this: that we should use force to get children into sex. The context of the interview with the pedophile journal Martijn of 2004 was the idea that we force children to go to school, to learn bicycling or swimming, to eat properly and so on, but when it comes to sex, the idea of force is totally taboo. I should rather have used words like giving a little push, some stimulation, or benign force. The idea is that we now use force to prevent the sexual development of youth, and that I would suggest it would be much better to do the opposite and help them with some spur to become self-conscious sexual citizens.

In the mean time, the mayor has accepted a boat for the homo youngsters (regrettably together with their parents) and my proposal to have a "city debate" on sexual politics c.q. citizenship, is going to materialize as the mayor has accepted an invitation of my school to join such a debate. And the media are now showing serious interest in my take on sexual citizenship. So it seems end good, all good.

(Dutch original below) (Volkskrant Febr 3)

  • From our correspondent Willem Beusekamp*
  • AMSTERDAM -- Gert Hekma, lecturer of Gay & Lesbian Studies at the

University of Amsterdam, has been flooded with death threats [slightly exaggerated, GH]. **On Friday he lodged a complaint with the police against five persons who sent him specific death threats by email. *

  • The hate messages sent to his own address, to the university and to

many websites follow Hekma's explanation of his differences with Gay Pride, the new organisers of which wanted to have a children's boat join the traditional canal parade. The Mayor of Amstedam, Job Cohen, has in the meantime decided to refuse permission for this.*

  • The initiative for the* *"under-16s" boat came from a 14 year old boy

and was supported by the Dutch gay organisation COC. Children would be welcome, provided their parents gave written permission. The parents could also remain close to their children in a separate boat. According to the COC at least ten children had applied to participate, including a 12 year old. *

  • Hekma (55) emphasizes that he himself had nothing to do with the

proposed children's boat. "I had only expressed my opinion as an academic that it seemed to me to be crazy that the legal age of consent is 16 years when children so much younger are now coming out the closet. I welcomed the idea of the children's boat. But as a result I am now accused of being a pedophile professor and child molestor!" *

  • The University and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, where

Hekma teaches, continue to support him, but they have asked him to refrain from making further statements for the time being. It is different with the Amsterdam City Council, COC and Pro Gay, the chief organisor of Gay Pride. Hekma says: "They have dropped me like a hot brick. From Hugo Braakhuis, the man behind Pro Gay, I have received a letter in which he says he wants no further contact with me. In particular he denies that I have any involvement with the organisation. I find it appalling that gay organisations are behaving like this and are trying to silence me."*

  • Hekma says that his involvement with Gay Pride was initiated by the

City Council itself. "An official, who organises large events on behalf of the mayor, suggested that I should organize a symposium. He must have known my background and my views on paedophilia, as I have written in many articles and a book on the subject. Now he wants nothing more to do with me."*

  • "I find the reaction of the City Council really bad. There is endless

debate over Islam and religion, while most Amsterdammers have no religion at all. Let them (the town councillors) for once think about a sex policy for the city, instead of officially denying what everyone can see is happening on the streets. If the word "sex" is mentioned everyone reacts with hysteria, as in the Oudkerk affair, discussions over the Red Light District, and now again Gay Pride. "Sex in the city" -- that should be the theme of the great debate about this city." *

[comment of the translator, unknown to me] Yesterday morning the major had to backtrack: he will now permit the "teenergay" boat (the word "children", used by the Volkskrant here, has now been carefully banished from the discussion) on two conditions: the parents must be with their sons or daughters *on* the boat as chaperones, and the whole parade must become "family friendly", containing nothing that would 'frighten the horses', so to speak. Other reports say that the boat will have to be kept away from any boats with provocative themes. Hekma has also noted that the registrations for his class next term are up as a result.

For the kids themselves, see also

Here my own version of the event written up for Doug Ireland, journalist of the NY Gay City News, and some answers to general questions about the issue of pedophilia and children & sex:

On thursday Jan 25th first mention was made in the media on this minus 16 (age of sexual consent) homo youngsters boat (homojongerenboot) and I was the only one being mentioned as member of the recommendation committee, while the COC (national Dutch GLBT movement) was explained to have helped to organize the boat - short interview with Frank van Dalen chair of the COC (he and Danny, the 14-year old youngsters who came with the idea, were that same evening on tv). I was happy to see this message a day later, and as their was no such committee, I was neither member of it. I was member of an initiative group for the organization of the parade brought together by a city hall official. This new group was closely connected to Pro Gay, the organization that organized the gay canal parade in 2006. There is another group, the Gay Business Association, that organized the event from 1996 to 2005. Its spokesman is Siep de Haan, a man who always succeeded to make trouble during the preparations for the parade. City Hall wanted to get rid of him and also broaden the parade from drinking and dancing to cultural, sportive and academic events. So therefor I was asked last October for something academic. I have advised the man of the municipality on other people he could address - having a large crowd of acquaintances in the queer community.

On Friday, the local television had a debate program on the homo-youngstersboat. They phoned me as member of the recommendation committee to possibly participate in the debate, but as this was not the case, other people participated in it including Siep de Haan and the director of the local chapter of the COC (transgender Tania Barkhuis). Siep was very strongly opposed to this boat because it exposed these youngsters to the flaunting homosexuality of the parade and could damage their innocent souls. In fact there have always minus 16 youngsters on the boats and along the canals, and living in the Red Light District I see many such kids venturing into the district to have some fun and information. So what's the problem. Siep also went to the Mayor and convinced him of his view - the mayor the next week also voicing concern about these youngsters (the 14 year old Danny had come himself with the idea - see his website During the weekend, people mailed to the local tv to oppose the boat. As I was mentioned as being involved, someone also made the connection between me, the boat and an interview I had given in 2004 to pedophile journal Martijn after publication of my book "Homosexuality in the NL from 1730 to the present" (regrettably not translated). Probably this was Siep. He must have sent it to several media around 13 H. on Monday Jan 29 as two journalists phoned me a bit later. In this Martijn interview I am rather laid back (untactical, people would reproach me later) in my expressions. So at some point I ask why we oppose with so much force when it comes to sex while we think it is a normal part of education - being obliged to go to school, learning to bicycle and to swim, how to eat &. Then I say, invoking Sade, that it could be a good idea to forcibly bring kids to sex. The journalists who phoned me probably received this quote and asked me to defend myself against "severe accusations". So I was forced to defend myself, not discussing the boat and pedophilia out of stupidity as the COC is still claiming, but out of necessity. The man of the Volkskrant (leftist 250.000 circulation morning paper) did an excellent job and allowed me to give the context of the quote, state that this boat had really nothing to do with pedophilia (which pedophile would come to a boat with kids that was surrounded by media and parents - while these youngsters had absolutely no reason to be interested in such a man at that moment) and also that the boat was an absolute necessity because these gay youngster have no place to go: they are refused in gay bars, the COC, the Circles (coming out groups for young people) so they made clear an essential problem of age of consent laws - they come out at always earlier ages (far before 16 for sure) and have for years no place to go (while later others and I made clear that these queer youngster live, different from straight youngsters, in a heteronormative environment where they will be often the only GLBT person and could be an object of scorn and insults).

The local tv asked me the same questions, and also asked me why I should engage with pedophilia, and I answered that it is normal for an academic to touch all topics, in particular difficult themes like pedophilia. I have done so throughout my work. That evening they had this interview broadcasted, together with one with director Barkhuis of the local COC-chapter. And the local tv station published the item on their website in the following way: the controversial professor of gay and lesbian studies GH is known as a defender of pedophiles and he said in the pedophile journal Martijn the following (quote: we should force children to have sex) with no context, and continued, he is also known to be involved in the homo youngsters boat. Hekma sees no reason why this would create commotion. Most people now suppose this is a bad trick played on me by Siep de Haan to discredit Pro Gay and promote his own GBA. The license for the parade has to be given this or next month, so they are fighting each other. I have been a victim of this fight. Because what happened: this news item was taken by the ANP (Dutch news office) and spread like a virus on various websites, where people actively react on the news. The following morning several sites carried this text, often with a link to the Martijn interview, but people mostly reacted directly to the item and started immediately to wish my death, and some threatened to kill me, or said other bad things on this evil "pedoprofessor", “whip-pedo” (zweepjespedo – new word in Dutch) or promoter of sexual child abuse. A sour nerve of the Dutch had been touched. I have no idea how far the quote spread, but the three popular websites that I had a look at, had about 150 reactions each the next day, and also gay websites had lively discussions (but less violent, and sometimes supportive voices were raised). I also got on my own email about 30 hatemails, 6 expressing the wish to murder me (the posters not hiding their identity). Later the same week, other news items followed, each time leading to many reactions (on wednesday got about 70 reactions in one hour after an item was posted).

The tuesday all this started I woke up with the national radio summarizing my views on this issue from the Volkskrant which made me quite happy because they did an excellent summary and did not demonize me. But opening my computer, I soon saw the first "I am going to push your shit through your throat before kicking you to death". Then I saw all the reactions on internet. Also my University got its load of hatemail (dozens apparently) to complain they had such a professor (technically I am not a professor in the Dutch system, but I was always mentioned as being in this higher position). No phone calls, no letters, only these hundreds of reactions on internet while I received myself 30 hatemails. The first murder threat I sent to the dean of my department, Peter van Rooden, and he sent it on to Ine van Brenk, head security of UvA (University of Amsterdam) and in the past the liaison officer between City Hall and the gay parade. She came immediately for a meeting with the two of us, giving advice and informing the police. She was afraid that there would be a demonstration as we had in October when there was a debate on the pedophile party; I was out of town but I understood the meeting had to be cancelled and special police forces were needed to remove the anti-pedophile demonstrators (close allies of Michiel Smit, a Fortuynist who is also gay and hates pedophiles - contrary to Fortuyn who defended pedophilia & Brongersma and describes in his autobio several pleasant experiences with adult males while he himself being underage). She also incited me to go to the police to pose a complaint.

On wednesday the Mayor announced his opposition to the boat, and the local newspaper Parool reported it on the front page, having inside an interview with me and some quotes from the interview (especially the broader context). I explained force as incitation, helping kids to discover sexual pleasures, practices and identifications. That same day the Pro Gay organization distanced itself (with the COC) from me and said I was no member of their organization, in fact had never been (the difference between Pro Gay of which I indeed was no member while I was part of the initiative group of City Hall and had signed for the request to organize the parade of 2007). There was no consultation with me or with other partners. This was again reported the next day in De Parool with the mention that the Mayor had promised to rethink his position on the boat, and would discuss it a week later with van Dalen. Van Dalen himself distanced himself again from me saying I had deleterious ideas, and the COC reported something similar on their website and in a press release. Stabbed in the back by COC and City Hall because they were too afraid to be seen as maybe supportive of pedophiles. That same afternoon my lover saw this official of City Hall who said he had never known I was a pedophile, and shocked that he now understood I was. Queer fellows at City Hall, and also a bad job to tell so to third parties (he did not know he was speaking to my lover, although he could have known because I introduced them - my lover being a great help through this commotion as he worked in politics - Dutch parliament)

This van Dalen was mainly angry that homo- and pedosexuals were mentioned together = he eagerly wants to separate the two because of the demonization of pedophilia in the NL. It also came on an unpleasant time for him because they are creating a new coalition government of christians (CDA), socialdemocrats (PvdA) and the modern-orthodox party CU (Christian Union). A coalition that has framed the nuclear family as the foundation of society, and central to their project of living together - while half of the Dutch don't live in such a family of two parents with children, or is unhappy with it. Van Dalen has these weeks weekly calls with Rouvoet, the leader of the CU, and said last thursday in a newspaper that this right wing government promises a "new spring". The COC is dependent on government money and this Rouvoet will become the minister of "nuclear families and youth", a new ministry, that will surely be also responsible for homosexual emancipation. So he very much needed to distance himself from me, and had a hard time to evade the question why he supported the age of consent at 16 and refused to give space in local COC-buildings to gay youngsters, while supporting this boat. Walking on eggs so to say what he had to do for strategic reasons - and as an academic I have not to be strategic, and is it more interesting to cross borders and engage the difficult questions (another hot one is gay cruising - so public sex).

On Friday nothing happened. On sathurday there was a letter to the editor by me in Parool and an interview with me in Volkskrant mentioning the death threats (see above). Several radio stations mentioned it in their news - an interesting experience to hear your possible death announced waking up. Other media phoned being interested in the sensation and wanting to know how it felt to be the object of such threats. Several media were trying to get me in their programms, so Pauw & Witteman Holland's most popular "intellectual" talkshow - both on Wednesday and again after the weekend on Monday. I refused knowing they had demonized the pedophile party - asking them to come to explain their program, but once there only asking whether they had had sex with boys, or had been in prison for such things. I had consulted my dean on my media presence, and the UvA of course better liked it when I stayed out, and I had to agree since I really had no envy to face more demonization. They never forbade me to speak out - thanks to my dean who defended my freedom of expression with the higher levels (as my colleagues are neither ever forbidden to speak out) In this letter and interview on Sathurday (Febr 3d) I took the control back (this is the article reported above). I said it was not me who was the problem but COC, Pro Gay and City Hall because they had dropped me instead of making clear I had my freedom of expression, and was a good partner for the parade. Weak knees, unlike the UvA. And I continued to say, this mayor Cohen always wants to discuss religion (mainly Islam) in the city, while only half of the population is religious, he could do a better job discussing sex in the city seen the many scandals and commotions we have seen over the last years, and the importance of sexual citizenship in a city like Amsterdam. So let's go beyond our faggot fights and set a step forward. The Parool published the same day an article in which it was made clear (but not proven) that Siep de Haan had been the instigator of the commotion, so once more exculpating me. On Sunday I requested the COC to remove their ugly sentences on me from their website which they refused.

That week the new courses started and one student who had registered, withdraw and started a hate campaign -the first result being that a student eagerly wanted to subscribe to one of my courses. I have the impression that some more students withdrdw - less than 5 while I am teaching with colleagues 3 courses with about 130 students. Another student came to my defense on and explained I was probably the person who knew best about Dutch sexual past and present, and continued a question from an earlier poster what was my sexual preference claiming I was not a pedophile but a homosexual who liked to be fucked in the ass by strong men in the Sarphatipark. No idea how he got his details, he must have mistaken someone else for me.So all the commotion also had its hilarious sides. In all the courses that started last week I have informed the students on the scandal and tried to explain my views on sexuality and children. The paper of the UvA prepared an article on the affair that was withdrawn under pressure from higher quarters.

And from the first people who support me started to send emails, phoned or wrote me, the number growing after the mention of the death threats on sathurday. By now I received about 80 of them. The gay group of Green Left sent out a press release in which they supported the homo youngsters boat and me (while disagreeing with some of my viewpoints - well, I also disagree sometimes with myself). For these people I gave a "survival party" last Friday (Febr 9) - 40 people attending.

How did I feel? Very bad of course because of the hatemail and my presentation often not only as a pedoprofessor but also a pedo and a promotor of child abuse. Have resisted out of principle to deny that I am a pedophile. Nights were short because I lay puzzling what to say the next day, or what now to expect. After the turn on Sathurday Febr 3d I felt however very happy, as happy as I rarely felt - also because of the support of my lover Mattias Duyves and of all those other people.

I have reported the death threats to the police for various reasons. These people who sent them need a bit of stong advice to respect others. The police say they take them serious. I was amazed that the websites are not obliged to remove this hate language. I did research with students on hate language on right-wing, ethnic minority and muslim websites against gays - thos websites were critized because they did not remove such hate language. And with these Fortuyn like websites, this hate language stays there forever. Hope to understand that later on. Of course such death theats effect your senses. I became more careful, not too much looking at naughty guys, getting alert on certain words (like a homo has with homo, faggot and so on), and having second thoughts when a car gave me as a bicyclist precedence. Some of the hatemail entered my sexual fantasies - sometimes it looked like sm-porn because some who read the Martijn interview, understood my stronger interest is in sm. The guys from the pedophile party already sent me the first tuesday supportive letters - they have gone through this all - and said these people shout loud but will do nothing. So I was never very afraid, being able to joke about the hatemail very soon. But of course there may be an idiot who recognizes me on the street and may get angry at this "pedophile".

Thursday febr 8th the mayor and van Dalen had a meeting and now the mayor supports the gay teener boat. And the boss at the International School is busy organizing a city debate (that is what we do when there are commotions) in which the mayor and I will participate. And I am still alive! So all turned to the good. It is amazing to see how it went from being demonized as a child abuse promotor to a serious participant in urban politics. Two journals want to speak me now not to discuss the sensation but my views on sex in the city.

In Trouw (morning paper of protestant background), I was demonized once more on Febr 8th. I sent a letter and expressed my idea on force in another way: we now use force to impede the sexual development of children but it may be much better to use it (incitation, little push) to help them. This is especially important for those youngster who don't fit gender and sexual norms. SOME NOTES ON THE BACKGROUND OF THE AFFAIRE Since several years pedophile groups are taboo on gay parades. The COC moved from supporting them to neglecting them and now to distancing itself from them. It started in the early nineties - when the ILGA wanted to have observer status at the UN which failed due to the Clinton government refusing this status because the LGBT organizations included pedophile ones - you may remember it.

In 2002 the age of sexual consent was raised from 12 to 16 under protest of COC and NVSH (Dutch organization of Sexual Reform). As far as I know the COC never retracted its view on this issue, but in the present climate anybody who defends a lower age of consent will be immediately more or less equated with an interested (so pedophile) position.

The topic of children and sexuality is very difficult. Most people try to evade it because of the kind of thing I experience now. We had a panel in June 2006 on the UvA on the theme, and for a room of a hundred people, I did my job in defending an early sex education that is more practical and gives socio-historical rather than the biological info (genitals, venereal diseases, contraception and pregnancies) they now get, and to learn them to say yes to sex instead of no - when you learn what you like, you are better able to express and defend yourself, and if you only know no, it will be much more difficult to know when to say both yes and no. Of course I come from the gay world and gay people know how important these older (young) men were who helped you out for the first time with gay lessons, sometimes good sex in an environment where such examples were and still are excluded. In this panel, and in the reactions I receive, most people of course agree with this idea that sexuality does not follow laws or common opinion (as Rene Scherer wrote me and he is totally right) and many kids start far before with sex - often with people the same age, but also with older people. As a US student once said to me: at age 8, I had no interest in the small penises of my agemates, but in the big ones of older kids or men.

The main line in the commotion was, as I indicated, the idea that this boat had something to do with pedophiles, and I was the main transfer point from the boat to the pedophiles. From the first news item on, the boat was controversial because people thought these youngster don’t belong in the gay parade. Some people must have made the connection between young gays and lesbians and pedophile interests from the beginning – as I explained, mistakingly. In the hatemail that I received it is clear that many people object to pedophiles, to homo youngsters boats and to the gay parade in the general. Many people from abroad have the idea the Dutch are so tolerant. We did research on this issue last year for the government and came to the conclusion that acceptance is skin deep - 95% of the people will say they have no problems with LG's, and 75% with same-sex marriage, very p.c.; but when it comes to two men kissing in the streets still 42% says to object (and probably many more object when they see it in reality), while only 8% objects to a straight couple kissing. I am always saying: we have legal but no social equality and Holland is still a heteronormative society, and sex a big taboo. I can explain you why: because the Dutch (like other Westerners) have an ideology that sees sex as natural, private and that it should be combined with love. There are no mental and physical spaces with this ideology of privacy where you can enjoy sexual pleasures. I always defend the gay sexual infrastructure as an example for straights. They should create the same (and get rid of their idiot idea that women and men are very different when it comes to sexual pleasures). This has all very far reaching consequences and the Dutch are not ready for them - certainly with the new right-wing government (on sexual issues; most people will say it is centre-left)

What is interesting for you is the reversal in the support for gay and lesbian rights. In the past it was a left liberal issue, but since Pim Fortuyn the (utter) right has taken to homosexual emancipation, sometimes perhaps honestly (like with Fortuyn) but mainly out of islamophobia. They use the gay boys to beat the muslims for their "homophobia" - and there are good reasons (teachers not any longer coming out, gay men bashed out of their homes in ethnic minority vicinities etc). Now the right embraces the gays, and the left gets nervous also because nearly all the ethnic minority people vote for the PvdA (soc.dem. Blairite). So the left has become reluctant to touch "moral" issues as gay rights, being afraid to loose these voters. Even my leftist gay friends become confused when someone like Hirsi Ali starts to discuss gay rights. Once in a public letter they said the gay situation in Holland and also in Turkey is OK, trying to oppose statements of Hirsi Ali in favor of gay and lesbian rights in which she says the reverse - these gay and lesbian friends don't want to be associated with her anyway. Well, when she wants to help gays in a convincing manner, why oppose? Let 's see first her deeds before distancing from what she says.

(Dutch orginal of translated article at the beginning)

 *Doodsbedreiging na steun kinder-gay-boot*

Van onze verslaggever Willem Beusekamp

AMSTERDAM - Gert Hekma, docent homo/lesbostudies aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam, wordt overspoeld met doodsbedreigingen. Vrijdag deed hij aangifte tegen vijf personen die per e-mail en met naam en toenaam aankondigen hem om het leven te brengen.

De haatmails, gericht aan zijn eigen adres, de universiteit en talrijke websites, volgden na Hekma s toelichting op zijn bemoeienissen met Gay Pride, waarvan de nieuwe organisatoren een kinderboot wilden laten meevaren in de traditionele grachtenoptocht. Burgemeester Cohen heeft inmiddels besloten hiervoor geen toestemming te verlenen.

Het initiatief voor de 16- boot was van een 14-jarige knaap en werd ondersteund door de belangenvereniging COC. Kinderen vanaf 11 jaar waren welkom, indien hun ouders een verklaring zouden tekenen. De ouders zouden tevens op een aparte boot dicht bij hun kroost blijven. Volgens het COC hadden zich al tien kinderen aangemeld, onder wie een 12-jarige.

Hekma (55) onderstreept dat hij zelf niets met de kinderboot te maken heeft. Ik heb slechts als wetenschapper mijn mening gegeven over de mijns inziens krankzinnige beschermde leeftijd van 16 jaar in het Wetboek van Strafrecht, terwijl kinderen juist steeds jonger uit de kast komen. Ik juich die boot nog steeds toe. Maar ineens sta ik te boek als pedo-professor en kinderverkrachter.

De universiteit en de faculteit sociologie en antropologie, waar Hekma doceert, blijven hem steunen, maar hebben hem gesommeerd zich voorlopig rustig te houden. Anders is dat met de gemeente Amsterdam, het COC en Pro Gay, de hoofdorganisator van de Gay Pride. Hekma: Ze hebben me laten vallen als een baksteen. Van Hugo Braakhuis, de man achter Pro Gay, kreeg ik zelfs een brief waarin hij elk contact met mij verbreekt. Hij ontkent bovendien dat ik bij de organisatie ben betrokken. Het valt mij ontzettend tegen dat juist homo-organisaties niet hun rug recht houden en mij monddood maken.

Hekma zegt dat zijn betrokkenheid bij Gay Pride door de gemeente zelf is geïnitieerd. Een ambtenaar, die namens de burgemeester grote evenementen organiseert, vroeg om een symposium. Hij moet mijn achtergrond en mijn denkbeelden over pedofilie hebben gekend, ik heb er talloze columns en een boek over geschreven. Nu wil hij niets meer met mij te maken hebben.

De reactie van de gemeente valt mij sowieso erg tegen. Eindeloos wordt er gedebatteerd over islam en religie, terwijl de meeste Amsterdammers helemaal geen religie hebben. Laten ze eens goed gaan nadenken over een seksbeleid in de hoofdstad in plaats van officieel ontkennen van wat iedereen op straat kan zien. Als het woordje seks valt, reageert iedereen hysterisch, zie de affaire-Oudkerk, de discussie over de Wallen en nu weer de Gay Pride. Seks in the city, dát moet het thema zijn van een groot stadsdebat.

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