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".
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
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 poulation||1998||2003|
|Protestant (evangelical-lutheran, calvinist)||21.0%||19,0%|