Amsterdam politician and MP Ahmed Marcouch has been presented with an award for his efforts in defending gay rights in the Muslim community.
Education Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt awarded the policeman-turned-politician the homo emancipation prize (Aanmoedigingsprijs voor homo-emancipatie) for his role in making homosexuality a discussable subject among Muslims.
Before being elected to parliament in last June’s elections, he was an active local politician in Slotervaart, an Amsterdam neighbourhood with a large percentage of Muslims. He earned himself the nickname ‘Sheriff’ because of his tough approach to dealing with the problem of loitering Moroccan youths.
Mr Marcouch, who came to the Netherlands as a 10-year-old boy, believes that the immigrant population should integrate more. As a paperboy, he taught himself the Dutch language by reading the newspapers he delivered.
The jury who awarded the prize said that they were “impressed by the courage and fortitude [Mr Marcouch] showed in bringing what is for many a sensitive subject into the open, both at local and national level.”
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide 2011