The debate about Islam in the Netherlands has become so tense that it should be put on hold for a while, Rotterdam's Muslim mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has told Trouw in an interview.

'Some debates should wait until the time is right,' Aboutaleb said. Some politicians and 'opinion makers' are forcing the issue with 'steam and boiling water,' he said. 'The Netherlands' intellectuals consider the time ripe for certain developments but most of the Dutch are not that ready. I am a real believer in the gradual approach.'

While Aboutaleb supports increasing the visibility of religion, he does not compare the Muslim call to prayer to church bells. There is a long tradition of Christianity in the Netherlands, and this is why the city council does not organise events over the Christmas break, he said.

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