Sunday, October 16, 2005

Fear of assassination in Holland over burqa ban.

EU: Rita Verdonk's proposal to ban the burqa is raising fears she could be added to an enemies list targeted for killing.

"....For a country that has legalised gay marriage, prostitution, euthanasia and cannabis, Holland seems in no mood for compromise when it comes to applying tough laws on immigration. A crackdown followed the murder last year of Theo van Gogh, the film-maker shot in Amsterdam in protest against a film he had made about the oppression of women in Muslim communities. In a note skewered to Van Gogh’s chest, Mohammed Bouyeri, the 26-year-old killer who was jailed for life, left a list of “infidels” to be slaughtered, a threat that drove Geert Wilders, the conservative politician, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Muslim MP who appeared in Van Gogh’s film, into hiding. They are under round-the-clock police protection but this has not stopped new death threats in the past few days. Last Friday police arrested seven people suspected of plotting to murder them and carry out other terrorist attacks on November 2, the anniversary of Van Gogh’s killing. One of those arrested was Samir Azzouz, a 19-year-old of Moroccan origin, who in April was acquitted of charges of planning to attack Amsterdam airport and blow up a nuclear reactor. A spokeswoman for Verdonk acknowledged concerns that other supporters of Van Gogh’s killer might have added her name to the hit list. The murder of Van Gogh provoked revenge attacks against mosques and prompted initiatives from Verdonk that have made Holland’s stance on immigration the strictest in Europe. From being considered a bastion of multiculturalism, Holland these days is promoting “Dutchness” for all and penalties for people who refuse to fit in. Verdonk, a former prison warden and head of state security who says her only hobby is work, has introduced Dutch language and culture classes for immigrants, who must pledge to observe the country’s liberal values even if this means respecting the rights of women and homosexuals, a baffling concept for some immigrants. Verdonk, 50, the mother of two teenagers, has further outraged Muslims by expelling imams accused of promoting terrorism; defending a Dutch woman who ran over and crushed to death a Moroccan youth who had snatched her bag from her car; and cancelling a meeting with Muslim leaders who refused to shake her hand because she was a woman. Another aspect of the crackdown was her order to revoke the residency permit of immigrants who commit petty crimes. Until recently the permits could be revoked only for serious offences like murder. Verdonk declared in parliament last week that the “time of cosy tea-drinking” with Muslim groups had passed and argued that a ban on burqas might be needed in some circumstances on grounds of public safety. Police are concerned that a terrorist could use a burqa to conceal weapons or a bomb."

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