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Amsterdam mayor Cohen a Time Magazine ‘hero’

Sole Dutchman on European list

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM - Mayor Job Cohen of the Dutch capital city Amsterdam has been named a 2005 hero of Europe. Cohen is the only Dutch person on Time’s list of 37 ‘extraordinary people who illuminate and inspire, persevere and provoke.’

Cohen, 57, has served as mayor of the Dutch capital since 2001. The magazine writes that Cohen knew his city risked a spiral of racial violence, when Muslim extremist Mohammed B. shot and killed filmmaker Theo van Gogh for insulting Islam, last year November.

Naming Cohen as one of its three ‘hate busters’ of 2005, Time reports that the ‘inflammatory tone and language’ of some Dutch politicians alienated the country's almost one million Muslim minority, while Cohen's inclusive approach was widely credited with helping keep in check reprisal attacks against the Muslim community in Amsterdam.

A report by the city’s Anne Frank Foundation counted 106 reprisals across the country, but only one incident was reported to the police in Amsterdam. Cohen was incredibly successful in defusing the tension in his city, according to Hans Dijkstal, a former leader of the Liberal VVD party.

Time Asia has named aid society Hi Phi Phi, founded by two Dutch citizens, as one of its heroes of 2005. Emiel Kok who had lived for a number of years on the Thai island of Phi Phi, immediately returned to Thailand when the area was struck by the December 2004 tsunami, to set up local aid. Dutchman Ralph Toll in the meantime had launched a website, (Help International Phi Phi), also to provide aid for the stricken area.

The two Dutchmen did not solicit funds themselves, but assisted the island’s villages with communication, the coordination and the registration of the many volunteers and help bring back tourists after the clean-up had finished.