Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Theo Van Gogh

An Eruption of Violence

Within the weeks following Theo's murder, there were a multitude of violent eruptions, including incidents of vandalism and a series of vicious arson attacks throughout the country, most of which were aimed at the Muslim community. One of the more severe attacks occurred when a bomb was set off at an Islamic primary school in the town of Eindhoven. Luckily there were no injuries because the attack occurred in the early morning hours, yet the school was severely damaged.

Islamic School, bomb damage to front door
Islamic School, bomb damage to front door

Other Islamic schools and mosques located in Uden, Huizen, Zuilen, Breda, Groningen, Almere and Rotterdam were also vandalized and/or set ablaze by hooligans, some of which were apprehended by police and jailed. Almost all of the attacks were believed to have been direct retaliation for Theo's murder and further aggravated by racial and religious discrimination against the Muslim community. The surge of violence sent shock waves through the country, evoking disbelief and outrage not only within the Muslim community, but also within mainstream Dutch society.

In counter response, arsonists attempted to burn down two Dutch Protestant churches in Utrecht and Amersfort with Molotov cocktails. Moreover, an Islamic fundamentalist group who calls itself al-Tawahid has threatened retribution against the Dutch government and citizens if the arson attacks and vandalism against Islamic institutions persist. Al-Tawahid demanded that inflammatory television programs that depict Muslims as terrorists should not be aired, otherwise the group warned it would commit terrorist attacks against the country, Radio Netherlands reported on November 8, 2004.

In the meantime, the Dutch government has since launched investigations into the attacks and increased round-the-clock police surveillance of Islamic buildings around the country. There are plans to implement additional safety measures to prevent further attacks. However, the authorities have complained that it is virtually impossible to permanently safeguard all Islamic structures because of a lack of resources.


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