Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Dutch fear Muslims

A new poll shows that most Dutch are afraid of Muslims:

The poll, conducted by TNS NIPO in the Netherlands, as well as in Spain and Italy, since the November murder of Theo van Gogh by a suspected radical Islamist, showed only 19% of the Dutch do not see the presence of Muslims in the country as a threat.

Home to almost one million Muslims who make up 6% of the population, the Netherlands’ reputation for tolerance and social harmony has been shattered by the murder and a wave of attacks on mosques and churches and death threats against politicians.

Racial tensions surfaced again this week after a Dutch woman killed a youth of Moroccan origin after he stole her bag.

Highlights of the poll, to be launched formally on Monday, were published by De Volkskrant daily yesterday.

The newspaper said the results were surprising given that Spain and Italy were much more frequently confronted with illegal immigration from Muslim North Africa than were the Dutch.

However, the survey also showed 67% of Dutch people had no contact with Muslims and 65% hardly know anything about Islam in spite of broad coverage in the media.

Those who see Muslims as a threat said they were afraid they would eventually have to live under Islamic religious rules. Those living outside big cities, women and the well educated were more likely to have negative views, the newspaper said.

Half the Dutch polled said they would move house if their neighbourhood became dominated by immigrants and the same proportion said they were afraid women would no longer be able to move freely in public because of Muslims.

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