Dutch PM hits out at supporters of ‘teacher killer’
16 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has publicly criticised the group of students who held a demonstration in support of one of their peers who is accused of gunning down a teacher in a school canteen in The Hague earlier this week.
Balkenende made his comments after students and staff in Terra College in The Hague gathered Friday for a ceremony of remembrance for teacher Hans van Wieren, 49, who was shot dead by a student on Tuesday 13 January.
“There are young people who have no feeling for a respectful society. They see nothing in this (the shooting) that was unacceptable,” Balkenende said.
The prime minister said the victim and thousands of other teachers like him deserved respect for dedicating themselves to educating young people.
About 30 students provoked outrage throughout the country on Thursday when they gathered outside Terra College and expressed support for the murder suspect, 17-year-old Murat D., who was scheduled to appear in court on Friday afternoon.
Some of his friends placed a banner with the words “Murat, we love you” on a car window and they banged on cars to signify their support for him.
One youth told 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”.
The prime minister also lashed out at depictions of violence in the media.
Speaking during his weekly press conference, Balkenende said that the media and makers of computer games should stop and think before featuring violent scenes that helped violent acts become more acceptable in society.
Earlier, ministers observed a minute’s silence at the beginning of Friday’s Cabinet meeting in memory of the teacher.
Deputy Prime Minister Thom de Graaf and Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven are to attend the cremation of the teacher’s remains on Monday.
Van der Hoeven has said that school authorities have been guilty of paying too little attention to the problem of assaults on teachers by students.
Physical attacks on teachers are believed to be a growing problem in the Netherlands, but Tuesday’s incident was the first time a student allegedly shot and killed a teacher.
Meanwhile, the police have confirmed that three students at a school in Amsterdam-West have been arrested for allegedly sending a threatening letter to the school.
The letter, which reportedly threatened teachers would be killed, contained a bullet.
The authorities have not ruled out making more arrests.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news + teacher killing