The Dutch have suspected for some time that in Holland, their world famous attachment to tolerance was turning into a one-way street. There was an assumption that the indigenes of tiny Holland (population 16 million), would tolerate large-scale Islamic immigration without a mew of protest because they were so famously tolerant. That the immigrants owed a duty to their host country to acculturate themselves, learn the language, and adopt the tolerance they had made their way to Holland to enjoy seems never to have occurred to anyone in government.
Writing shortly after the murder and public butchering of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, Anthony Daniels wrote in London’s Telegraph that the "habit of toleration is an integral part of Dutch identity. Van Gogh's death, like that of the politician Pim Fortuyn two years ago, echoed the assassination in 1584 of the Prince of Orange, William the Silent, who is still seen as a martyr not only to the Protestant cause, but also to that of freedom of conscience."
Freedom of conscience has always been critical to Dutch thinking. Wrote Daniels, "In the 17th century, Holland was the only country in Europe where a Jewish apostate, Spinoza, could publish philosophical works challenging the very basis of revealed religion. The Jewish community could expel and curse Spinoza, but neither Jew nor Christian dared to harm him.
"Only under German occupation was this tradition of toleration interrupted and temporarily crushed."
Unlike the French, although their small country was occupied, the Dutch never became collaborators. And it was in Amsterdam that, under the noses of the occupying Nazis, the family of Anne Frank and her family were sheltered and fed for four years.
Pim Fortuyn, rich, successful, enjoying a flamboyant homosexual lifestyle, was the first to publicly sound the warning that, having gotten rid of the Nazis after WWII, there was a danger that a new fascism was being introduced into Holland by stealth: the fascism of Islamic intolerance. Politically liberal, Fortuyn sensed in the Muslim intolerance of homosexuality a threat to his own liberal lifestyle and the freedoms of his easygoing countrymen and women, and he formed a political party to fight it. He found a quick response among the voters. He expressed what they had been thinking privately and had been reluctant to voice because they didn’t want to sound, well, intolerant.
Despite his murder, the party he had so recently founded enjoyed a runaway success at the polls. At last the fact that the immigrants had no intention of acculturating, but instead were set on imposing their narrow, bigoted beliefs on the liberal-minded Dutch had been noted out loud.
Fortuyn’s associate Aayan Hirsi Ali – a Somali woman who had fled from an arranged marriage 12 years previously, made her way to Holland, earned a degree in political science, then won a seat in Parliament – became famous, not only for her achievements and articulate speech, but for the fact that she is a Muslim apostate. Fatally, her friendship with Theo van Gogh, led them to collaborate on the movie Submission, now on the internet around the world; and two weeks ago Theo van Gogh was murdered in broad daylight, as he cycled along a busy street in the Dutch capital.
The murderer was a Moroccan primitive holding dual nationality. Like the millions of other Muslims who have found their way into European countries, he brought his traditions with him. He murdered van Gogh by shooting him six times then, as Theo lay dying, calmly bent over him and slit his throat in the northern African way, as calmly as someone gutting a fish, and impaled two knives, one with a note attached, through his chest. Old habits die hard.
The shock of this murder was even greater than Fortuyn’s two years earlier, and the phlegmatic Dutch seem to have decided they have had enough.
So far 20 mosques and schools have been attacked or burned to the ground. There have been some retaliation by Muslims damaging churches, but by and large the Muslims are keeping an extremely low profile this time around. One resident of the great ancient Dutch port of Rotterdam, which now has an immigrant population of 47 percent, said he went out on market day and there was not one Muslim face to be seen. "It was like going back to the Fifties," he wrote.
The right-of-center government has been blamed for trying to sweep the threat of Islamofascism under the carpet in the name of "tolerance." The Dutch are now asking why the burden of tolerance is always on them, rather than the immigrant population. Why, for example, were immigrants not required to learn to speak Dutch? Why were their children educated in the language of their parents rather than the language of their host country? Why were Dutch taxpayers paying the salaries of imams? These hyper-tolerant attitudes have allowed a parallel population, which owed no allegiance to Holland, to thrive and fester.
The government has had to admit that the murderer had been under surveillance as a possible terrorist and that they didn’t act to restrain him soon enough.
But I wrote in FPM last week that the Dutch government has had a Sleeping Beauty moment, awakened by a venomous kiss, and this gruesome and repellent murder has ramped up anti-terrorism activities and adjustments to social programs. Already they have announced that holders of dual nationality who are found guilty of a crime will have the Dutch half of their nationality revoked.
An opinion poll has shown that 40 percent of the Dutch no longer consider Muslims welcome in their country and 47 percent said they are now less tolerant of Muslims. A woman at van Gogh’s funeral was quoted as saying, "Under the Nazis, you were killed if you spoke out. Now it is happening again." To emphasize that if the Dutch are accused of "intolerance" if they speak out against the Islamification of their country yet the intolerance is all on the Islamic side, at the funeral a sarcastic letter addressed to the murderer was read out promising "we will do our very best to learn more about your beliefs to prevent further ‘misunderstandings’" and apologizing that the murderer had been provoked to kill "during Ramadan."
Although the security services declined to say whether it was related to the murder, two days later, Dutch police fought in a 14-hour shootout at a house in The Hague in which four officers were injured when a terrorist lobbed a hand grenade from a window. It was the biggest anti-terrorist operation since the 1970s, and police evacuated the entire neighborhood. Two suspected terrorists have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
At the same time, police said four people were detained in Amsterdam and one in Amersfoort as part of the same investigation into a network of radical Muslims. Six suspects, including van Gogh’s murderer, 26-year-old Mohammed Bouyeri, who was part of the group, have been arrested. The evidence would seem to suggest that Bouyeri got his orders to murder van Gogh from a terrorist cell in Spain.
Apparently, Samir Azzouz was a frequent visitor to Bouyeri’s apartment. A teenager who didn’t lack for ambition, Azzouz has been charged with planning attacks on a nuclear reactor, Amsterdam’s giant Schiphol Airport, and Dutch government buildings.
Last Thursday, in an emergency debate, the government agreed on new proposals to deal with Muslim extremism, adopting a wide-ranging package of new counter-terrorism measures. The size and mandate of the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) will be expanded, and measures will be taken against radical imams and mosques. Begging the question of course, of why action against radical imams and mosques was not taken years ago. What is this curious somnolence in so many European countries towards Muslim immigrants?
At the same time there is a stated intention to do more to assimilate the disaffected, the assumption being that the process of assimilation is somehow the duty of the host country rather than that of the people who got off a plane – or the back of a truck – with their suitcases and backpacks.
The large circulation Dutch newspapers TROUW, The Telegraaf, and Volkskrant seem to be broadly in agreement and supportive of the government, although TROUW reports that Prime Minister Balkender has been criticized for not having had enough discussions with disaffected Muslims.
Radio Nederlands says: "A conclusion which is warranted…is that for many years the Dutch political world has been naïve: naive in its approach to the encroaching radicalization of young Dutch Muslims; naive as regards the increasing social and other divisions in the underprivileged neighborhoods of the country's main towns and cities; naive in its response to the growing presence of Islamic terrorist cells on Dutch soil inside the country; and naïve once again even in the face of a string of warnings on that very subject from the intelligence and security service."
The Dutch had assumed that the whole world respected their tolerance. And indeed, the whole civilized world does so.
Now the Dutch parliament’s Speaker, Josiah van Arisen, warns: "Jihad has come to the Netherlands."
In the last week, the Netherlands has begun to demonstrate it is prepared to fight back.