Home / Articles / ‘Can’t We Discuss This?’ Liberalism and the Challenge of Islam in the Netherlands
The Netherlands, which has seen the political murders of the populist Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and film director Theo van Gogh in 2004, faces particular challenges in meeting Europe’s “Islamic problem.” Not just a welfare state like all European countries, the Netherlands also has its own peculiar “pillarization” social structure, which developed in order to permit all groups to be different but equal. For decades, the differences were among various groups of Christians and secularized Christians. But after the 1968 protest movement, and with an influx of immigrants, parallel societies emerged in which Muslims could build up their own institutions and values. While the system has clearly failed, the responses of the Dutch political class to date seem inadequate. This article outlines an approach to the challenge of European Islam that could restore political life to the right priorities.