Since mid January the Amsterdam police does not enter a quarter of the city of Amsterdam in uniform, according to police spokesman Remco Gerretsen. The city quarter is Overtoomse veld in Amsterdam-West. The police wanted to avoid violence against police officers.
The measure is a reaction against the unrest caused by the death of a 17 year old boy who died in a scooter accident. The accident caused riots in the neighbourhood. Morroccan youngsters felt that the police caused the death of the lad.
The police spokesman said: "If one sees a bull in a field, one does not go up to the bull dressed in red? We had no fear to enter the neighbourhood, but did not want to provoke any nastiness"
Right-wing politician Geert Wilders said to newspaper "Het Parool" that the neighbourhood has become a "no go area".
Gerretsen retorted: "we were present during the day that the order was in effect. This measure is not standard, but has been used at other occassions". Gerretsen was not able to indicate the frequency of the use of the measure.
It is significant that the car sent by police to search the house of Mohammed Bouyeri, Van Gogh's assassin, was pelted with stones when it was parked in roughly the same area as Overtoomse Veld. This is similar to how police presence is treated in most neighbourhoods with large African and Middle Eastern immigrant groups.
My spin on this message which was published in "Het Parool" and various webbased publications is that the media are now very attentive to bad news coming out of ethnic areas of Amsterdam.