Groups clash at site of planned mosque in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Three people were injured and six arrested Saturday when rival demonstrators clashed over the removal of a war monument to clear the ground for a new mosque, police and city officials said.

The trouble began when an extreme right-wing group, known by its Dutch acronym NVB, staged a protest over the removal of the monument last year. Left-wing counter-protesters distributed flyers accusing the NVB of using the monument issue as an “excuse to spread their xenophobia and hate.”

Police said they arrested six people when they broke up scuffles between the two sides. Three people were hurt.

The incident happened on the planned site of what would be Amsterdam’s largest mosque, which has been at the centre of a long-running battle with neighbours who want to block it. It is uncertain that the project will go ahead.

City spokeswoman Janet van der Meulen said the war monument was removed to allow site renovations but would be restored at a nearby site.


“The monument will be back but I can’t say when,” she said.

The NVB describes itself on its website as a movement that “believes that Dutch culture, language, values and standards must be protected against influences from outside.”

Tensions between the country’s growing Muslim community, now 6% of the population, have receded since they peaked following the 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an Islamic radical.

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AP, via the Edmonton Sun, USA
Sep. 22, 2007
www.edmontonsun.com

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This post was last updated: Sep. 22, 2007