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Correspondence

The Fruits of Tolerance

The terrorist bombings on July 7, 2005, in London were widely described as proof that the British multicultural model is flawed; few, however, noted that this crisis has an illustrious precedent, the assassination of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands.  On November 2, 2004, a young Muslim, born in Amsterdam to Moroccan parents, shot Mr. Van Gogh on the street, then tried to cut off his head.  In a final statement at his trial last summer, the murderer declared that he had killed Mr. Van Gogh for insulting “the Prophet.”

Casualty-wise, the London bombings were obviously far more serious; symbolically, however, the murder was unprecedented and far more significant, as Theo van Gogh was dubbed the first victim executed for the offense of “Islamophobia.”

In the wake of the London bombings, there has been much talk about the need to increase dialogue, integration efforts, and tolerance toward immigrants—notably, Islamic immigrants—as the only effective weapons for fighting Islamic terrorism.  But this is precisely what has been happening in Holland for decades.  The Dutch model of tolerance-based multiculturalism is all the more noteworthy in that it is not the fashionable product of the latest cultural trends, as is the case with other countries, but a core part of the Dutch mind-set, or at least of vast sectors of the native Dutch population, dating as far back as the 15th...

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