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+ Overview

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.


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+ 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.

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posted jan. 25, 2005

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