Dutch Muslims targeted after murder of controversial film-maker

The Netherlands, which until now has always claimed to be more tolerant than the rest of Europe, is now openly hounding its Muslim population, on the pretence of fighting terrorism. The change has been brought on by the murder of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch film-maker, at the beginning of November, allegedly by an ‘Islamic radical’. Not only have attacks on mosques, Islamic schools and Muslims’ homes become common, but immigration and security officials have stepped up their search and interrogation activities. Government ministers and opposition leaders, exploiting the public’s anger at van Gogh’s murder, have thrown their weight behind tougher immigration and asylum laws and procedures. They have also called for greater cooperation with the rest of Europe to fight ‘Islamic radicalism’.

But by showing their resolve to “fight terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism”, the Dutch have managed to reveal that they have not in fact been as tolerant of their Muslims as they claim to have been. They have discriminated against them and denied them opportunities for employment and education since their arrival (mostly 1960 onwards) from Turkey and Morocco. Moreover, the call for tougher measures against ‘radical Muslims’ and immigrants began well before the incidents of September 2001 in the US. Almost immediately after the killing of van Gogh, Rita Verdonk, the immigration minister, told a crowd of 10,000 mourners that Dutch tolerance goes “this far, and no further” –” implying that Dutch tolerance had been exploited and that such murders could not have happened in a less tolerant country. The almost 1 million Muslims in the Netherlands (5.8 percent of the population overall, and 13 percent in the biggest cities) have not been the recipient of good-natured or tolerant treatment, as more honest Dutch speakers have admitted.

Even a close friend of van Gogh’s has pointed out since his death how racist Dutch society is. Prem Radhakishun, a lawyer and broadcaster, said: “Thirty percent of Dutch people are racist, thirty percent are not and the rest do not know what they think.” Over two years ago the then immigration minister made similar remarks, although he did not go quite so far. Hilbrand Nawijn said in a newspaper interview: “People say the Dutch are tolerant but I doubt that. It is not that they are racist, but they are much more conservative [than foreigners outside the Netherlands realise] when it comes to people being different.” In 1991 Frits Bolkestein, the outgoing EU commissioner, felt it necessary to issue the warning that unless tough immigration measures were introduced, the “divisions within society” that were allegedly already caused by the “inflow of immigrants” could get out of control.

Dutch politicians and other racists are now calling for tighter immigration rules, giving the false impression that these rules are too lax and need to be “updated”. They conveniently ignore the fact that in 2002 those rules and procedures were so drastically revised that the New York-based Human Rights Watch (no friend of Islamic radicals) objected, as did other human-rights groups. Interestingly, one reason given for the alleged failure to act in the past, despite the existence of problems, by no less a person than Rita Verdonk, is so frank (perhaps unintentionally) that it shows how cynical the approach of the Dutch to immigrants must have been, despite their reputation to the contrary. In a newspaper interview two days after van Gogh’s funeral, she said: “We have a lot of unrest in our society. For years it was not possible to talk about problems, particularly with regard to ethnic minorities. We thought they would go back where they came from after a while, but they didn’t. We thought it was a multicultural society, but it wasn’t.”

The Muslims have stayed, and have been paying a heavy price for not leaving, although Verdonk is not quite honest enough to say that. In fact she blames them for the failure of ‘multiculturalism’, saying that they have become “increasingly inward-looking”. Naturally she fails to mention the reasons, such as racism and lack of opportunities, that probably drove them “inwards”. Security agencies have been providing dubious evidence for her biased analyses, warning of “radicalisation” of Muslims since the 1990s –” admitting in the process that they have had Muslims under surveillance. The Dutch intelligence agency is on record as having said that “around 100 –” 200 Muslims under surveillance at any one time”. Mosques, schools and homes are also under surveillance, although it does not seem to prevent the attacks (burning, breaking etc.) to which they are now frequently subjected.

The heightened war on Muslims in the Netherlands is attributed to the murder of van Gogh at the beginning of November. He was a self-declared enemy of Islam, and took every opportunity to blame Islam for all the problems of the world. In particular he claimed that Islam made slaves of women, and he encouraged Muslim women to join his war on their deen. Unfortunately he was able to find Muslim women (such as Ayaan Hersi, a member of the Dutch parliament) to collaborate with him. The script for his film, Submission, was in fact written by Ayaan, who is now in hiding, having renounced her people’s faith and adding insult to injury by writing this blasphemous film. It is claimed that van Gogh was murdered by an ‘Islamic extremist’ because of this film and his devoted service to the enemies of Islam.

But two years ago there was another highly publicised murder: that of a renowned ‘gay’ politician, who was also famously anti-Islam. Pim Fortuyn was in fact responsible for making anti-Islamic attacks popular in the Netherlands –” putting the emphasis on the theory that Muslim immigrants stand for values opposed to Dutch traditions. As a ‘gay’, Fortuyn would naturally be opposed to Islamic values. But despite his hostility to Islam, he was not murdered by an ‘Islamic terrorist’ but by an animal-rights activist, a supporter of ‘Dutch values’. Needless to say, no one is therefore criticising animal-rights activists or their values.

Instead, Dutch politicians, journalists, organisations and thinktanks are united in their belief that international terrorism (another name, they claim, for Islamic radicalism) must be fought by any and every means –” including the abolition of rights of minorities, particularly Muslims.