1.4.2005 | Von:
Ines Michalowski

The end of the Dutch integration model?

The assassination of the filmmaker and columnist Theo van Gogh in November 2004 in Amsterdam sparked an Europe-wide debate about the "ailure of the Dutch model of integration".

Gedenken an den ermordeten Filmemacher Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam im November 2004.Memorial for murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam in November 2004. (© picture-alliance/AP)
Unlike the previous murder of the politician Pim Fortuyn by an animal-rights activist, the murder of Theo van Gogh was motivated by Islamic fundamentalist ideas. As a well-known and provocative public figure, van Gogh had always made much of his right to freedom of speech and had made a short film about the suppression of women in Islam together with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, another critic of Islam and a Member of Parliament for the right-of-centre liberal VVD [1]. In fact, Hirsi Ali herself had been the intended target of the assassination, which was carried out by a Dutch national of Moroccan descent.

Dutch public opinion saw the murder as an attack on the highly valued principle of freedom of speech – although many also acknowledged that van Gogh had gone too far in his critique. In the days after the assassination there were a series of attacks and counter-attacks on more than a dozen Mosques, Churches and Islamic schools. These events brought into focus the question of whether the Netherlands really was a model of successful integration, and indeed whether or not inter-religious and multicultural coexistence was possible at all. Central to the debate was the question of whether the focus on tolerance had served ultimately to gloss over a number of quite real and pressing social problems.

Religion (in % of the total poulation19982003
Roman Catholic31,0%30,0%
Protestant (evangelical-lutheran, calvinist)21.0%19,0%
Source: CBS


Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy).



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