Friday, December 17, 2004

Dutch middle class flight

The Dutch middle class has started to flee the Netherlands following recent events such as the murder of Theo Van Gogh:

Escaping the stress of clogged roads, street violence and loss of faith in Holland's once celebrated way of life, the Dutch middle classes are leaving the country in droves for the first time in living memory.

The new wave of educated migrants are quietly voting with their feet against a multicultural experiment long touted as a model for the world, but increasingly a warning of how good intentions can go wrong.

Australia, Canada and New Zealand are the pin-up countries for those craving the great outdoors and old-fashioned civility.

The illusion that all was well in the Netherlands died in May 2002 when Pim Fortuyn, the shaven-headed, gay populist, was shot by a Left-wing activist in the country's first political assassination since 1584.

Fulminating home truths than nobody else dared utter, Fortuyn swept on to the political stage protesting that Europe's most densely-populated country was full to bursting point, and that Muslim immigration, leavened with Salafist extremism, had reached a level where it was starting to destabilise Dutch society itself. His movement won more seats than the ruling Labour party in the 2002 elections.

Theo van Gogh, his friend and disciple, was next. The mischievous film-maker had his throat cut by an Islamic fanatic last month as he bicycled to work through the heart of Amsterdam, punished for a film about repression of women in the Muslim world.

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