Religions of Peace?

Christians, Muslims appeal for calm after attacks.

Christian and Muslim leaders have called for peace amid attacks on both mosques and churches. The violence comes in the aftermath of the funeral for Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was murdered November 2 by an Islamic extremist.

"The violence, the aggression must stop," said Jan-Gerd Heetderks, president of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. "And that goes for people who get the idea that they should damage Muslim mosques or schools, too."

An Islamic leader agreed. "This is a negative spiral that's threatening to turn into attack and counterattack," said Mohammed Sini, the head of Citizens and Islam.

"There's a risk that we'll have an unbridgeable 'us and them' opposition between parts of the population, and that's something that can't happen."

The Netherlands's population of about 16 million people includes some 900,000 Muslims.

A fire damaged an Islamic primary school in the southern Dutch town of Uden. In Rotterdam, a Plymouth Brethren church was targeted by vandals.

Van Gogh, 47, had received death threats for a film he made criticizing how Islam treats women. A Muslim man shot and stabbed van Gogh, who was cycling on an Amsterdam street. The killer cut van Gogh's throat and left a note threatening further attacks in the name of Islam.

"I am very concerned about the hardening of society in the Netherlands," Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, a Christian, said in a television interview. "We all need each other. At the moment, we are acting in a very non-Dutch way."

Related Elsewhere:

Christianity Today Moviesreported on Theo Van Gogh's murder.

News elsewhere includes:

Attacks harden Dutch attitudes | Head teacher Jeanne van der Voort was at home watching television when she got the news that her school was on fire. ...
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Religions of Peace?
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January 2005

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