Monday, December 20, 2004

More from Amsterdam

Today's Washington Times runs the first of a three-part series on Holland's struggle to come to terms with their growing Muslim population. The piece begins with some straight talk on non-assimilating immigrants:

Parliamentarian Geert Wilders sees himself as the legendary Dutch boy, finger in the dike, holding back a rising tide of immigrants that threatens to swamp the Netherlands and all of Europe. "Immigration is the biggest problem that Dutch society is facing today," said Mr. Wilders, in his office in The Hague. "We have been so tolerant of others' culture and religion, we are losing our own. ... Europe is losing itself. ... One day we will wake up, and it will be too late. [Immigration] will have killed our country and our democracy."

The intense politician spoke under the watchful eye of bodyguards, as his picture has been posted on Muslim Web sites calling for his beheading.

Mr. Wilders is not afraid to speak out, and he's not messing around with immigration policy:

Mr. Wilders demands, and many support, a five-year moratorium on all non-Western immigration, even to unite a legally working husband with his family. He wants illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers deported, and all immigrants to have a working knowledge of the Dutch language before they arrive.

To remain in the Netherlands, a newcomer should pass a basic civics exam, one that few Dutch could pass.

Mr. Wilders calls mosques "houses of terror and recruitment" for jihad. He describes Islam as "dangerous" and "fascist," articulating the fears of many.

Here are some interesting stats:

Dutch intelligence says that an estimated 50,000 Muslims are devout and may be sympathetic to extremist goals and perhaps 150 might actually engage in criminal or terrorist acts.

Not sure how they came up with those numbers, but I'll bet they didn't include aiding and abetting in that 150.

Some response to Mr. Wilders from the head of the Netherlands' Arab-European League:

"[Muslims] have nothing to be ashamed of. We can be proud of our religion, our culture, our traditions. We do not have to assimilate or integrate. ... We do have to act like responsible citizens, obey the laws and get involved in the political process," Mr. Marmouch said.

Like other Muslim organizations, he condemned the killing of Mr. van Gogh, but dismissed Mr. Wilders' bodyguards as a "fashion statement" designed to create fear of Muslims and draw attention to his anti-immigration politics.

No mention by Mr. Marmouch of the calls for the be-heading of Mr. Wilders.

The piece ends with a telling quotation:

"Time solves a lot of things," said Mr. Rath, of the University of Amsterdam. "It is a process of the Netherlands, of Germany, of France redefining who and what we are. Right now, we don't know who we want to be. All we know is that we don't want it to be Muslim."

I'll be interested to see the rest of the series.