Muslims number about 920,000 in a total Dutch population of approximately 16 million. Most Muslim immigrants come from Turkey and Morocco; in the 1960s and 1970s, the Dutch government encouraged Moroccans to come to the Netherlands to fill a labor shortage. Fifty percent of the Muslim population holds Dutch citizenship. There are over 30 Islamic schools in the country and about 400 mosques, which receive guidance from Turkey and Morocco.
The Dutch, who are famous for their open and tolerant society, have faced challenges in recent years as the dynamics of their population change. A recent government report projected that foreigners soon will outnumber native Dutch in Holland's four major cities. Populist and anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn famously proclaimed Holland to be "full" before he was killed by an animal rights activist sympathetic to Muslims prior to the 2002 election for prime minister. The murder revealed that simmering tensions between native Dutch and the Muslim community that were beginning to boil over.
Immigrants to Holland face an uneasy path to acceptance and prosperity. Up to 60 percent of Moroccans and Turks are unemployed. Integration classes on Dutch language and culture are mandatory for new immigrants, and in February 2004, the Dutch parliament voted to deport 26,000 failed asylum seekers from countries including Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Bosnia, and Afghanistan over the next three years.
+ Major Terrorist Plots and Arrests
+ On Nov. 2, 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death in Amsterdam. Mohammed Bouyeri, a Moroccan immigrant, was arrested after a gun battle with police. Bouyeri allegedly was upset by Van Gogh's controversial film Submission, which was critical of Islamic attitudes towards women and depicted partially naked woman with Quranic verses painted on their bodies. In the aftermath of Van Gogh's murder, Muslim mosques and schools were attacked and Dutch churches were targeted in reprisals. On July 26, 2005, Bouyeri was sentenced to life in prison. During his trial, Bouyeri expressed no remorse for his crime.
+ Euro Islam
This report from PBS's "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly" focuses on the Netherlands as a case study for examining how a Western society handles an influx of Muslim immigrants. Among those interviewed by reporter Saul Gonzalez is legislator Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was Theo van Gogh's collaborator on Submission.
+ Holland Daze
This provocative December 2004 article from The Weekly Standard, explores how the Dutch reaction to the Van Gogh and Fortuyn murders differs from how other European countries are reacting to Muslim fundamentalism: "Namely, the view that the problem is not 'radicalism' or 'marginalization' or 'fundamentalism' but Islam -- that Islam and democracy don't coexist well." Author Christopher Caldwell argues: "There are several reasons that the debate has taken a different turn in the Netherlands, but primary among them is the presence of outspoken Muslims."
+ Letter from Amsterdam: Final Cut
New Yorker correspondent Ian Buruma writes in this January 2005 article: "… when old lefties cry out for law and order you know something has shifted in the political climate; it is now a common perception that the integration of Muslims in Holland has failed."
"In a deeply polarized society, can free expression triumph over fear?" asks this December 2004 article from The Observer.
+ International Religious Freedom Report 2004: Netherlands
This report, released before the murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, delineates Dutch efforts to address a number of issues related to its growing Muslim population following the 2002 assassination of Pim Fortuyn.