Students rally to support Dutch 'teacher killer'
15 January 2004, AMSTERDAM — Several dozen students held a rally Thursday morning in support of a fellow student arrested for the shooting and killing of teacher Hans van Wieren in a school in The Hague earlier this week.
15 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — Several dozen students held a rally Thursday morning in support of a fellow student arrested for the shooting and killing of teacher Hans van Wieren in a school in The Hague earlier this week.
The students gathered outside Terra College in the morning and placed a large poster with the text "Murat, we love you" on a car window. The group also banged on cars and shouted "We love you Murat" to get their message across.
They told reporters that they were angered by the way the suspect was being portrayed in the media.
"Van Wieren stopped and confronted Murat in every break between classes. Murat tried everything to solve the problem between them, but everyone has a limit," one of the pupils told newspaper De Telegraaf during the rally.
Claiming the suspect had no option but to shoot the teacher, one of the pupils said: "He (the suspect) was one of us and he never even hurt a fly".
"If he has to leave school, he will have to leave all his friends behind. We hope he will be freed quickly."
It was also suggested that the shooting might have been a reaction after the victim allegedly made a snide remark about Murat's father, who is currently in prison.
Police eventually got the rally to disperse, but the group of students indicated that they intend to continue their campaign on his behalf during a special remembrance service in the school on Friday for the dead teacher.
Hans van Wieren — described as a tough, but fair deputy headmaster — died from a head wound on Tuesday night.
Earlier in the day, he was standing in the canteen of Terra College when a pupil, allegedly 17-year-old Murat D., walked up to him, put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Murat turned himself in to police later that day.
The alleged murder weapon was found in bushes near the school on Wednesday.
Immediately after the shooting, it was reported that the suspect had just been suspended from school for bad behaviour. Later it emerged that he was not suspended, but faced a disciplinary hearing scheduled for Thursday.
The killing and Thursday rally are certain to heighten ethnic tensions in the Netherlands.
While the Dutch media does not publish the full names of suspects, or for that matter convicted criminals, publications have not been slow to point out the boy in this case is of Turkish extraction.
Fear within a large segment of the public about "ethnic crime" and the perceived lack of integration by immigrants are at fever pitch in the Netherlands.
Anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn reaped the benefit of these concerns and garnered massive support prior to his murder by an animal rights activist days before the general election in May 2002.
Fortuyn's LPF party emerged as the second largest party in the country, but lost a lot of seats in another general election last year. But many of Fortuyn's ideas about migrants and "ethnic crime" have been taken on board by the mainstream parties.
In contrast to Thursday's small rally outside the school, several other students have told the media that they cannot understand why the suspect allegedly shot Van Wieren.
Hatice, aged 15, and Cagla, 14, told news agency ANP that they never expected this from Murat.
Another youth, 17-year-old Hafize said: "I have known him (Murat) for seven years. He was a very good boy who got good grades in school. He just got in with the wrong crowd. Usually he was a very peaceful guy, but sometimes he could be very aggressive".
Other students said they did not know why the shooting occurred, but suggested the suspect might have been "stoned" on ecstasy at the time.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news + violence in school