Thousands of Dutch citizens rioted to keep refugees out of their town

It got ugly.
It got ugly.
Image: EPA/Jeroen Jumelet
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Two thousand people gathered to protest a proposed refugee center in the Dutch town of Geldermalsen last night, Dec. 16, according to Dutch national broadcaster NOS. Protesters tore down fences and threw stones, bottles, and firecrackers at policemen, who responded by firing warning shots to disperse the crowd, reports Agence France-Presse.

The riot erupted at a town hall meeting to discuss plans for admitting 1,500 asylum seekers into Geldermalsen, which has a population of 27,000. The meeting was cancelled following the outbreak of violence. Geldermalsen mayor Miranda de Vries, who took part in the meeting, tweeted later that no one involved in the meeting was hurt, but that she was saddened by the incident.

The Netherlands’ deputy justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff has called the incident “un-Dutch.”

The riot may be evidence of a growing divide between the government, which agreed to take in 7,000 refugees over the next two years, and the rest of the country.

In October, residents of Oranje, a tiny Dutch village of 103 people, protested the resettlement of hundreds of refugees in a nearby “vacation village.” Police were also forced to intervene in the Dutch city of Utrecht after protesters attacked a refugee center with a smoke bomb.