Nina van Zelst
By Nina van Zelst

In an interview with Dutch newspaper Telegraaf, the Minister for Justice and Law Enforcement Ferdinand Grapperhaus has pled for organizing less festivals in the Netherlands. This in order to reduce crimes in relation to drugs. These comments rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, which resulted in festivals dominating the Dutch newspapers this week. 

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In the interview with de Telegraaf, Minister Grapperhaus was asked about his opinion on several social issues, among which the battle against drugs. Grapperhaus: “Pill-users and coke-heads: realize you are helping the criminal industry, and that this falls on the regular people.” He continued: “The problem is: we have 1100 festivals in the Netherlands. Do we have to use all of our policemen for this? We have to be more critical: can we handle all of these events?”

“Are you saying we should organize less festivals?”

These quotes led to the headline ‘Less festivals in the battle against drugs’, and now Minister Grapperhaus is dominating the Dutch newspapers. People are on opposite sides, and heavy comments are being made: “The events have turned into being all about drugs. Festival organisations should take responsibility.

Luckily festival organisations are putting up their arguments as well, among which the director of Lowlands: “I believe it’s stigmatizing, unfairly and unjustified. Minister Grapperhaus is completely looking at it the wrong way. He needs to solve the problem by looking at its cause, which are the people producing drugs.” Also Front of House – a collective of festivals among which Intents – are stating they should investigate the need of police at festivals more:

“Events are already doing a lot in order to unburden the police. Think about checking visitors at the entrance, active surveillance during the event, having medical services and even video surveillance. In our opinion, using policemen is actually limiting.”

“Why should we, as a society, need so many festivals? These people are so desperate to go wild on pills…”

We still have to wait and see what will be the conclusion of this grand discussion, but legalizing drugs is definitely not an option for Minister Grapperhaus…

Footage via Facebook-page Intents Festival

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