Bruce Bawer er amerikaner og bor i Oslo. I 1999 bodde han en periode i Amsterdam, ikke langt fra moskeen hvor Theo van Goghs morder pleide å vanke. Nå har han igen besøkt byen og forteller at stemningen ikke er til å kjenne igjen.

It seemed a long time since 1999, when I lived in a largely Muslim neighborhood of Amsterdam only a block from the mosque attended by the man accused in Mr. van Gogh’s murder. During my time there, I quickly came to see that the city (and, I later recognized, Western Europe generally) was a house divided against itself.

The division was stark: The Dutch had the world’s most tolerant, open-minded society, with full sexual equality and same-sex marriage, as well as liberal policies on soft drugs and prostitution; but a large segment of the fast-growing Muslim population kept that society at arm’s length, despising its freedoms.

Instead of addressing this issue, Dutch officials (like their counterparts across the continent) churned out rhetoric about multicultural diversity and mutual respect. By tolerating Muslim intolerance of Western society, was the Netherlands setting itself on a path toward cataclysmic social confrontation? When I tried to broach the topic, Dutch acquaintances made clear it was off limits.

This reticence still applied in February 2002, when Mr. Fortuyn argued that radical Islam was capable of destroying and depleting his country.

His comments got him expelled from his party. Though many in the country shared his views, those views re2_kommentared anathema to the political and media establishment. No more.

After the murder of Mr. van Gogh, whose accused killer belonged to a radical Muslim

Not since 9/11 have I seen any country’s news media outlets so preoccupied with a single topic.

In my old, mostly Muslim neighborhood, a police officer told me flat out not to venture into such areas. The mood in all of the Netherlands is very tense right now, she explained. Earlier that day, she said, a journalist’s car had been smashed, presumably by Muslims displeased with something he had written.

At present, most appear to agree strongly with one commentator, Paul Scheffer, who wrote in the daily NRC Handelsblad last weekend: «We cannot hand over our country…. Words such as diversity, respect and dialogue fade against the dark context of this ritual assassination.»

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