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Cablegate: Netherlands/Extremism: One Year After Van Gogh,

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 002948

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EUR/UBI, S/CT, INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PINR PINS PGOV PREL NL KPRP
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/EXTREMISM: ONE YEAR AFTER VAN GOGH,
NO UNIFIED APPROACH

REF: ...



REF: A. THE HAGUE 2898
B. THE HAGUE 2705 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Nearly one year after the murder of
controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by Islamic
extremist Mohammed Bouyeri, the GONL is still struggling to
craft a strategy to address rising radicalization of its
large and disenfranchised Muslim population. An October 26
conference in Amsterdam, organized by the National Counter
Terrorism Office (NCTB) to survey efforts to combat terrorism
and radicalization since Van Gogh's November 2, 2004 murder,
made clear the GONL remains divided on how to tackle social,
political, and law enforcement issues related to
radicalization. The conference highlighted the difficulty of
discussing the link between terrorism and Islamic extremism
in a country simultaneously struggling to address broader
issues of Muslim integration. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) During a well-attended day-long Amsterdam conference
on radicalization hosted by the National Counter Terrorism
Office (NCTB), the Dutch Ministers of Justice, Interior, and
Immigration and Integration presented strikingly divergent
views on how to address the problem of radicalization among
Dutch Muslims. Justice Minister Donner, for example,
stressed the need for mutual understanding of beliefs to
combat radicalization, a problem he described as emerging
from our own ground and soil. Referring to the broader
societal divides between Muslim and non-Muslim populations,
he argued that all sides should learn to accept changes and
differences, even fundamental ones, to reduce social
tensions. Interior Minister Remkes, on the other hand,
argued that government representatives must stand firm
against fundamentalism, radicalization and violence.
Articulating a hard-line approach, Remkes called for a clear
delineation of non-debatable values, and urged local
community actors, including schools, to work with the Dutch
intelligence services to identify radicals. (NOTE: Earlier
in the week, Dutch press reported widespread criticism of
Remkes' proposal. END NOTE.) Minister of Immigration and
Integration Verdonk, known for supporting tough immigration
and integration policies, cited a serious lack of involvement
and commitment to integration by certain groups as a
contributing factor to radicalization, and called for wider
participation of the Muslim community in the broader society.

3. (U) Non-governmental panelists, drawn from academia and
the Muslim community, similarly took different approaches to
both root causes of, and potential solutions for
radicalization. Professor Bassam Tibi of Cornell University
cited the lack of a European Muslim identity as a fundamental
problem leading to radicalization, and called for the
creation of a European Islam compatible with core European
values and principles. A Dutch researcher on Muslim youth
and radicalization, Frank Buijs, similarly called for
religious alternatives within Islam, noting that Muslim youth
are finding few moderate Islamic voices when trawling the
internet for answers to their existential and basic life
questions.

4. (U) Sadik Harchaoui, Director of a Dutch social
organization catering to youth, painted a bleak portrait of a
large Muslim population plagued by serious and concrete
social and economic ills, including discrimination, poverty,
and unemployment. He charged the GONL with failure to
address problems within the Muslim community prior to Van
Gogh's murder, and for now overemphasizing the potential for
radicalization of the community. Harchaoui claimed the
government was creating a virtual reality of
radicalization, one that made radicalization synonymous with
terrorism and therefore threatened to alienate the broader
Muslim community.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: The Amsterdam conference, intended to
highlight the GONL's progress in combating Islamic
radicalization in the year since Theo van Gogh's murder,
instead exposed stark divisions within the government, and
within Dutch society at large, on how to tackle this
increasingly important issue. The conference also
highlighted intense Dutch interest in learning from U.S.
experiences with regard to integrating immigrant populations
while maintaining a clear national identity. Emboffs in
attendance fielded a large number of questions about U.S.
policies and programs throughout the day, demonstrating both
curiosity about the U.S. experience and a sometimes
surprising lack of familiarity with U.S. history and society.
Post will continue to look for opportunities -- such as a
possible U.S. trip by Minister Verdonk (ref a) -- to reach
out to Muslim and non-Muslim Dutch leaders seeking to counter
radicalization and extremism in the Netherlands. END
COMMENT.
SCHOFER

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