Liberal culture under threat in Dutch religious and ethnic crisis
Ian Traynor in Amsterdam
Friday November 12, 2004
The Dutch government yesterday moved to reverse a long tradition as Europe’s most liberal haven for immigrants by signalling tougher treatment of foreigners and Muslims and greater powers for the security services, in response to the Netherlands’ worst ethnic and religious crisis.
Several more arson attacks on schools, churches and mosques were reported across the country yesterday, bringing to more than 20 the number of incidents of racial and religious violence since controversial Dutch film-maker and Muslim-basher Theo van Gogh was killed 10 days ago in Amsterdam. A Dutch citizen of Moroccan descent is the prime suspect.
The murder has triggered a spiral of tit-for-tat attacks on mosques and churches and a national mood of alarm.
In raids this week in the Hague, Amsterdam and Amersfoort – including a 14-hour stand-off with armed Muslims – anti-terrorist units have arrested seven alleged Islamist terrorists. This is in addition to the arrest of Mohammed Bouyeri, charged with the murder of Van Gogh, and a further five arrests connected to the killing.