Christian-Muslim violence explodes in — the Netherlands?!
The nation that has long prided itself on being the most tolerant in the world is now home to the world's most recent outbreak of religious violence. At least five Protestant churches and nine mosques throughout the country have been attacked since filmmaker Theo van Gogh was killed, apparently by a Muslim extremist. Muslim schools have also been targeted, apparently by anti-immigrant racist groups ("White power" was scrawled near one school).
Van Gogh's death was apparently in retaliation for his short film Submission, which portrays Islam as a misogynist religion that supports rape and abuse. The film recently aired on Dutch television, infuriating many Muslims in the country. Van Gogh wasn't simply anti-Muslim, but Islam became a dominant target after the murder of politician Pim Fortuyn. Still, he frequently attacked religion in general and Christianity in specific. Thus, while news reports indicate that the Dutch churches were probably attacked by retaliating Muslims, and at least one Islamic group promised reprisals for the mosque attacks, there's also the possibility that they were attacked by the same terrorists who targeted the mosques and schools. No arrests have been reported in the church arson attacks.
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, an evangelical Protestant, blames Muslims and non-Muslims. "Extremism is reaching the roots of our democracy," the Associated Press reports him telling Parliament yesterday. "We cannot let ourselves be blinded by people who seek to drag us into a spiral of violence. It is the joint task of Muslims and non-Muslims to warn young people against radicalization. Together we need to work toward a peaceful society. … We ...1