AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – An explosion damaged an Islamic school in the southern Dutch town of Eindhoven Monday, police said, the latest attack on a Muslim institution following the murder of a filmmaker critical of Islam last week.
Police said they were investigating the cause of the blast, which took place in the early hours of Monday. It followed a series of violent incidents against mosques since the killing of film director Theo van Gogh by a suspected Islamist militant.
Eindhoven mayor Alexander Sakkers said nobody was hurt in the blast, which damaged the school’s entrance and shattered windows. He said the police had been told to keep watch on all Muslim buildings since Van Gogh’s murder.
“The neighborhood is terribly shocked,” he told Dutch radio. “It seems as if we will have to put a police officer in front of every building.”
At the weekend, mosques in the city of Rotterdam and the towns of Breda and Huizen were attacked but not badly damaged, while several fires broke out at a mosque in the central town of Utrecht on Friday. Police said they suspected arson.
Police detained a 24-year-old man on suspicion of setting fire to the mosque in Rotterdam on Sunday morning. Only the door was damaged. Pamphlets insulting Islam and showing pictures of pigs heads were plastered on another mosque in Rotterdam.
An Amsterdam immigrants’ center was daubed with red paint.
Police are holding seven people in the Van Gogh probe, including the main suspect, a Dutch Moroccan, who was charged on Friday with the killing and membership of a group with “terrorist intentions.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that investigators believed the murder suspect had contacts with Islamic militants in Spain and that the order to kill Van Gogh may even have come from a fugitive militant in Spain.
Dutch prosecutors declined comment on the report.
ANGER AGAINST MUSLIMS
Far-right protesters have marched in Amsterdam and Rotterdam to express their anger at the killing, while the government has urged calm amid fears of retaliation in a country where hostility toward foreigners is on the rise.
The Netherlands is home to almost a million Muslims or almost 6 percent of its population of 16 million.
A poll by RTL Nieuws showed 47 percent said they felt less tolerant of Muslims since Van Gogh’s murder, while another survey showed support for a populist who wants to stop immigration from Turkey and Morocco rising to 12 percent.
Geert Wilders, seen as a heir to murdered anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn, has received death threats for his criticism of Islam. He said last week he wanted to launch a new right-wing party to clamp down on Muslim extremists.
The main suspect was carrying a pamphlet threatening death to enemies of Islam, while a letter found pinned to Van Gogh’s body with a knife targeted a Dutch politician who worked with the dead man on a film about abuse of women in Muslim society.
Islamic experts said their style and content were close to those of Al-Takfir wal Hijra, a radical Islamic group that has declared war on Western unbelievers.
Nov. 8, 2004