From refugee boat to Amsterdam canal cruiser

May 3, 2017

Two boats that once carried refugees across the Mediterranean are now taking daytrippers along Amsterdam’s canals – a reminder to the city of its debt to immigrants

We wait on the quay, looking at a boat. It’s strangely familiar: the colour of rust, paint flaking, revealing layers of colour beneath, and Arabic lettering on the side. We’ve all seen fragile-looking, battered craft like this.

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The Alhadj Djumaa, or Mr Friday, was once a people-smuggler’s boat. But rather than smuggling people across the sea, it’s now spread with cushions and plates of bread and dips, ready for Amsterdam’s most original boat tour.

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