AMSTERDAM, Nov 3 (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.
“…threatened to make race relations worse…” There they go again. This is not, for the thousandth time, a racial problem. I don’t care if Sharia advocates have skin that is brown or white or green or blue. This is a conflict of ideologies, and until Europe and America realize that, they will continue to have a dangerous blindspot in regard to radical Islam.
Maybe that blindspot is clearing today in Holland.
“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.
A country built on trade, with a reputation for openness and liberal policies on issues from drug use to gay marriage, the Netherlands has seen a rise in hostility towards foreigners since the rise in 2002 of taboo-busting populist Pim Fortuyn.
Tapping into a wave of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities, the openly gay Fortuyn said the Netherlands could not absorb more foreigners, demanded tougher integration policies and criticised Muslim views on homosexuality and women.
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.”