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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Dutch React To Murder Of Theo Van Gogh

Suspected Islamist killing tests Dutch tolerance.

AMSTERDAM, Nov 3 (al-Reuters) - The killing of a filmmaker critical of Islam puts new strains on Dutch traditions of tolerance and will fuel demands for tougher treatment of immigrants, analysts and commentators said on Wednesday.

Theo van Gogh, who angered Muslims with a film that said Islam encouraged violence against women, was shot dead on Tuesday. A man with Dutch and Moroccan nationality was arrested for the killing, and suspected of Islamic extremist motives.

Commentators said the murder showed attempts to integrate immigrants had failed and threatened to make race relations worse in a country where 10 percent of the population is defined as "non-Western" foreigners -- many Muslim Moroccans and Turks.

"This event shows what kind of climate we have allowed to develop. What kind of people we have allowed in and just allowed to go their own way. How we have much too long just let things go to seed," sociologist Herman Vuijsje told the Volkskrant daily. ...

Noting that Fortuyn's murder and that of Van Gogh came 911 days apart -- a reference to the U.S. abbreviation for Sept. 11 -- De Telegraaf newspaper said lenient immigration policies had turned an open society into a "resentful and intolerant" one.

"Afraid of being called racist, we have been so tolerant with regard to these religious fascists that they have been allowed to merrily undermine the roots of our freedom," it said.

A group of far-right protesters shouting "Islamists, parasites" were arrested in The Hague on Tuesday after the killing and a right-wing group of Fortuyn supporters were due to hold a demonstration in Amsterdam later on Wednesday.

"I don't rule out unrest. The climate is seriously hardened," said Interior Minister Johan Remkes.

Mat Herben, a Fortuyn supporter, said Van Gogh's death had shown that the country was embroiled in a clash of cultures:

"Society is threatened by extremists who reject our culture. They are the fifth column and Theo saw that more than anybody." ...

A survey last week showed that a majority of Dutch said they expected to no longer feel at home in their own neighbourhood in five years due to the rising number of foreigners. In the three biggest cities, immigrants make up about a third of the population and form a majority among young people.
Dutch fear loss of tolerance.

But this time, there were eyewitness descriptions of the murderer's traditional Moroccan jallaba.

And then there was the manner in which Van Gogh was killed: his throat was reportedly cut, bringing to mind the words of an angry Muslim only a few months ago that people like Van Gogh who blasphemed against Islam should be "slaughtered like pigs".

"Today is the day I became a racist," was one of the typical reactions that appeared on Dutch websites on Tuesday, even before it had been officially confirmed that the killer was of Moroccan descent.

Other reactions were more extreme, calling for Hitler to be brought back from the grave or for all "foreigners" to be deported from the Netherlands at once.

Meanwhile, several websites for Dutch Moroccans were taken offline when people wrote in to express their approval of the killing.

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