Dutch news in brief, Monday 2 November 2009

2nd November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Media remembers Theo Van Gogh’s murder
The controversial columnist and filmmaker Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered by a Muslim extremist five years ago today and all papers mark the event that shook the Netherlands to the core.

The image of being an open, tolerant society where one could say anything was shattered and Dutch society changed in a fundamental way.

Van Gogh was rude, coarse and - according to many - offensive but his murder was an abhorrent act that can never be justified.

The murder also had far-reaching consequences, many analysts believe that Geert Wilders and his far-right Freedom Party wouldn't be nearly so popular if van Gogh hadn't been slaughtered.

AD opens its coverage with "after van Gogh, people are scared to say anything controversial".

Ton Folkertsma, who watched as Mohammed Bouyeri butchered the filmmaker, tells the paper that his life hasn't been the same since the murder and that the country has changed: "Things are going badly in the Netherlands, things can't continue as they are. Maybe I'll be murdered tomorrow, or maybe it will be you".

Trouw interviews political scientist Sebastiaan van der Lubben who said the murder created a general climate of fear that has now become institutionalised: "Since van Gogh's murder, Wilders has been under 24-hour guard. That, to me, is ample evidence that the Netherlands has fundamentally changed".

Writer Nahed Selim told the paper: "I'd call van Gogh a martyr for the cause of freedom of expression".

Vaccination programme gets underway
The other story dominating the Dutch papers is the start of the immunisation programme against influenza virus (A)H1N1.

NRC.next reports the first 5 million vaccines will be distributed Monday but asks "Is it too late?"

AD reports an increasing number of parents in the Netherlands are calling on the health ministry to expand the immunisation programme to include children and teenagers after a three-year-old died from swine flu last Thursday.

According to the paper, many grandparents want their grandchildren to be vaccinated and de Volkskrant that "anxiety over Mexican flu is increasing".

Protests against squatting ban continue
Last weekend saw another round of protests in and out of the Netherlands. .

Several papers report that the Dutch embassy in Berlin was damaged when protesters pelted it with rocks and paint bombs. de Volkskrant reports  the building, designed by top architect Rem Koolhaas, suffered minor damage.

According to the paper, Dutch embassies in Barcelona, Prague and Vienna were also targeted by sympathisers.

In the Netherlands, 21 buildings were squatted over the weekend as part of the national squatting day. One squatter told the paper: "Parliament may well have banned squatting but that doesn't mean to say that we're going to stop".

MPs call on prince to halt Mozambique holiday home project
Crown Prince Willem-Alexander's controversial vacation villas in Mozambique are back in the news; de Volkskrant's front-page headline reads, "Prince must get out of Machangulo".

In an interview with a national news programme on Sunday, Democrat 66 leader Alexander Pechtold said the “crown prince should be forced to withdraw from the controversial real estate project in the East African country”.

He also called for an emergency debate in the lower house of parliament on the matter later this week.

Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima are building two holiday villas on the Machangulo peninsular where the locals were supposed to have benefited from the project. However, MP Pechtold tells AD that protests by local people have allegedly been "broken up heavy-handedly by the authorities".

According to Pechtold, the royal couple "are part owners of a ranch in Argentina, own a house in Curaçao, what more do they need?"

Eurovision hits false note with Dutch fans
AD reports a Dutch boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest is in the air; according to a poll conducted by a commercial television station.

The poll reveals a majority is in favour of boycotting the Euro song competition as they feel it is too biased.

The paper wonders if that’s the real reason or it’s because the Netherlands has failed to make it into the second round final for the past several years.

Radio Netherland / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica

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