- The Dutch and British public debate on Islam: responses to the killing of Theo van Gogh and the London bombings compared
- Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations
- Volume | Issue number
- 19 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
Since the beginning of this century, Islam has become the subject of an intensive debate within Europe. Major triggers of this debate were, in the Netherlands, the assassination of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh on 2 November 2004 and, in the UK, the London bombings on 7 July 2005. Both violent actions were committed in the name of Islam. This article examines and analyses the national debate that emerged about Islam in both countries in response to these events. Four differences — with respect to diagnoses, remedies, openness and 'temperature' — are noted between the debates in the two countries. A point of common ground is the weakness of the voice of Muslims and Muslim communities in both the Netherlands and the UK. The differences relate to the balance of power between the pro-assimilation and pro-multiculturalism discourse in the two countries in the period previous to these events and to the attitudes towards Muslims of the Dutch and British people during that period. These attitudes are connected to mechanisms of 'selfing' and 'othering' and are linked to factors of (un)familiarity with and fear of Muslim immigrants and a lack of trust in the national government to overcome the problems associated with these immigrants.
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