Anti-Semitism advocate calls mass arrest of AZ fans ‘important signal’

Anti-Semitism advocate calls mass arrest of AZ fans ‘important signal’
The bus used to take the arrested supporters

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“An important signal.” This is how National Anti-Semitism Coordinator Eddo Verdoner calls the arrest of 154 AZ soccer supporters who sang anti-Semitic songs in the Amsterdam subway.

Around 7:30 p.m. last night, the metro was stopped by police at Strandvliet metro station, near the Johan Cruijff Arena. The Ajax – AZ premier league match was being played there. At that time, supporters had already been warned several times to stop singing. All those who sang were then arrested for group insult and taken in buses to a cell complex.

Police announced today that 11 of the 154 arrested supporters spent the night in a cell; they were detained on suspicion of involvement in vandalizing a bus and violence against officers. They will be released later today. Two officers were assaulted and insulted, police reported.

‘Glad this is happening’

If it were up to anti-Semitism coordinator Verdoner, the era of people expressing anti-Semitism on a large scale and getting away with it with impunity would be at an end. “It’s getting through to people that it can’t happen anymore. I’m glad it’s happening,” he says of the mass arrest. “There is a turning point to be seen, that something has finally changed.”

According to Verdoner, the effect of such anti-Semitic statements is not limited to in this case soccer. “You see that when someone makes such a statement in a soccer context it also seeps through. Then you see that ‘Jew’ is also used in the classroom, for example. That in turn leads to a sense of insecurity among people who are Jewish.”

Criminologist Henk Ferwerda calls it extraordinary that so many people were arrested at the same time for shouting slogans. “Last year at the Ajax – Napoli match a hundred supporters were arrested for insult, but also for vandalism and weapons possession. So yesterday was special from that point of view.”

There were also the circumstances for intervention. Ferwerda: “The police were present in the subway and apparently had enough people. That’s not always the case, but apparently yesterday it was.” In addition, picking up people is a lot easier when they are in a subway than in the stadium. Ferwerda: “With a subway train like that, you can carry them off one by one.”

The big question remains, however, how to prove that someone was guilty of shouting anti-Semitic slogans. Ferwerda says that it is also for this reason that it is often difficult to deal with proclamations in stadiums. “You have to know how something like that originates and who is behind it. That’s important to know.”

Kayleigh Williams