Vincent van Gogh's great-grandnephew is shot and stabbed to death in broad daylight on the edge of a city park. Streets fill with tens of thousands of angry protesters. Islamic schools are attacked and mosques vandalized and set ablaze--with a severed pig's head left as a calling card outside one of them. Can all that really be happening in the calm, tolerant, liberal Netherlands? The answer is yes. Minutes after the Nov. 2 slaying of firebrand filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who recently aired a controversial movie on Islam's alleged abuse of women, a Muslim with suspected terrorist ties was arrested for the murder, touching off a religious backlash that reached all the way to Parliament. As one politician went into hiding after being marked for death in a letter pinned to van Gogh's body with a knife, the right-wing coalition government proposed closing radical mosques, ramping up monitoring of foreign imams and stripping suspected extremists of their Dutch passports. "There is way too much political correctness in the Netherlands, and now we're paying for it," says Geert Wilders, another politician who went into hiding after receiving separate death threats.
Investigators say the murder suspect, a Dutch Moroccan named Mohammed Bouyeri, was a peripheral member of a radical Islamic group referred to as the Hofstad Network, which is linked to terrorist gangs in Spain and Belgium. A dozen suspected members have since been arrested in the Netherlands, where the death of van Gogh, who often slurred Muslims with unprintable epithets, has forced a tolerant country to rethink its freedoms. --By Andrea Gerlin. With reporting by Lauren Comiteau and Abi Daruvalla