donderdag 20 januari 2005

Tolerance, indifference and confusion in Dutch society

Dutch society has a reputation of tolerance that dates from centuries ago. Holland is not just a country of pot smoking pornographers, but also a nation that is hospitable to refugees and immigrants, that has freedom of speech and freedom of religion as basic rights, and that does not discriminate because of gender or sexual preference.

In Holland of 17 million inhabitants now 1 million are Muslims, and approximately 50,000 of them are supposed to be young man sensitive to fundamentalist ideas. They are raised by parents who grew up in the Moroccan Rif mountains or in Turkish Anatolia, and who are living in Holland without speaking the language. In their families arranged marriages and the abuse of women are not exceptional. In some mosques the imams tell them that apostates don’t have the right to live, and that homosexuals should be thrown from the highest buildings (with their head down). It must be confusing to live in a country like Holland.

In 2002 Pim Fortuyn (writer and failed professor in social science) decided to take part in the elections, with only one goal: to be our next prime minister. Fortuyn did not have any political experience, he did not have a program of principles. He was an independent thinker with opinions that covered the whole range from left wing to right wing policies. And he was extrovert and honest. Fortuyn’s opposers (politicians and journalists) did not know how to handle him, and started emphasizing his right wing idea’s (especially his disapproval of Muslim fundamentalism) and calling him fascist. Fortuyn warned them in public: “if I will be killed, it will be because of the atmosphere of hate that you created”.

During the final election debate on television Fortuyn was explaining how the government policy forced poor, badly educated Moroccan boys into crime. The labour leader (the predicted winner of the elections) interrupted: “you are living in a wealthy suburb, how do you know about Moroccan boys?” “I often have sex with them”, Fortuyn responded. The labour leader’s face grew pale, he could not speak for several minutes, and he only mumbled some words during the rest of the debate. He lost the elections, and then resigned. Holland was heading towards a fancy dressed prime minister, always accompanied by his two lapdogs, who had declared in a talk show on television that he could tell from the flavor of the sperm of his boyfriends if they had been drinking alcohol the night before. Pim Fortuyn indeed was the big winner of the elections, but he was a posthumous winner. On 6 may 2002, two weeks prior to the elections, he was shot by a confused left wing activist for animal welfare.

After the Pim Fortuyn murder another independent opinion leader continued to utter his aversion to Muslim fundamentalism. Film director and writer Theo van Gogh (related to painter Vincent) used to talk in very plain language like Pim Fortuyn did: he used to call Muslim fundamentalists “goat fuckers”.

In July 2004 Alaan Hirsi Ali (a young female refugee from Somalia, who renounced the Islamic faith, and now is a liberal member of Dutch parliament) and Theo van Gogh produced a short film telling the story of a Muslim woman forced into an arranged marriage who is abused by her husband and raped by her uncle. In one scene the film showed an actress in see-through garments with Koranic script written on her body, which also bore whip marks. The film was broadcasted on Dutch television. The next day Hirsi Ali and Van Gogh received death threats. Hirsi Ali now is living in secret “safe houses”, guarded by body guards day and night. Van Gogh refused protection. “Who would kill the well tempered village fool of Amsterdam?”, he said on television.

On 2 November 2004 Theo van Gogh was on his way to his office to attend the final meeting on his last production, that will be released in December: a film about the Pim Fortuyn murder! In a busy street in the center of Amsterdam Van Gogh was slaughtered. A Muslim extremist shot him, Van Gogh fell down from his bicycle, the goat fucker cut his throat, and left a five page letter with death threats to several politicians, pinned by a knife in Van Gogh’s chest.

Within a few hours everybody in Amsterdam knew, lot of people were feeling sad or angry, but also small fights between Dutch people and Moroccan immigrants were taking place in the streets. Choppers in the air, police in the streets, parliament building defended by police and soldiers. The major of Amsterdam, the prime minister, and even the queen immediately used the local and national networks to express their sorrow, and to call people not to fight but to be united in expressing their horror. “Van Gogh certainly would not have liked a silent celebration”, the major said. Only few hours later 20,000 people with instruments, horns, pots and pans and spoons gathered on Dam Square.

In the next weeks several mosques and churches have burnt down, a network of terrorists have been arrested, a camp of the Kurdish PKK (where people were trained to fight in Armenia) was dismantled, and a murder attempt on Hirsi Ali and another member of parliament was defeated.

Now everyday politicians, opinion leaders and journalists in newspapers and on television are asking: Where did it go wrong? Why didn’t we change our attitude after 11 September and after the Bali and Madrid bombings? How is it possible that the Kurdish PKK, which is worldwide known as a terrorist organization, has diplomatic admission in Holland? How did our tolerance change into indifference?

In 1997 a book titled “Against the Islamizing of our culture” was published. A quotation: “Caused by their advanced individualization Dutch people are not aware of their cultural identity and its achievements: the separation of church and state, the position of women and the position of homosexuals. Their indifference makes Dutch people an easy and vulnerable prey”.

In 1997 nobody took any notice of these words. The writer was Pim Fortuyn.

(Nimbin Good Times, januari 2005)