The Dutch Raise their Voices
(Gerard van Westerloo) The Low Countries - 2006, № 14, pp. 102-106
If the International Quality Press is to be believed, the entire Netherlands has recently undergone a complete metamorphosis. Until recently it was supposedly inhabited by a collection of decent, tolerant, liberal, open-minded burghers who willingly opened their doors to fugitive French Huguenots, Portuguese Jews, Antwerp Stocking Merchants and other refugees of conscience. But hardly had the twenty-first century made its entrance than these same unbelievably kind-hearted characters could not find words enough to express their abhorrence of the wave of colourful arrivals from places like Somalia, Bosnia and even Pakistan who arrived seeking refuge along the banks of the great rivers. To add insult to injury, they built places of worship not to the glory of the God of the Netherlands but in honour of Allah, who is notoriously intolerant of other Supreme Beings. This dramatic quasi-romantic representation of events, which by and large is widely believed not just outside but also within the Netherlands, seems too neat to be true. Can a nation's character really change so fundamentally in the space of a couple of years? The author begs to differ.
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