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(photo credit: AP)
LONDON - Islam is incompatible with modern Western society, according to a majority of those responding to a recent Dutch survey. Most of the people polled expressed a negative view of Islam and Muslims.
The survey was released the same week that a Dutch Justice Ministry report said radical Islam had made significant inroads among the country's immigrants, posing a threat to the nation's security.
Known for its laissez-faire social attitudes, the sharp turn in public opinion against Islam in the Netherlands has sparked a debate that has prompted criticism of Queen Beatrix and the government for allegedly abandoning Western values in the face of Muslim pressure.
The poll conducted by Dutch research firm Motivaction for the GPD newspaper chain on June 2 found that 63 percent of those surveyed believed Islam was incompatible with modern European life.
More than a quarter of respondents said Muslim immigrants were rude, lazy, intolerant and prone to criminal behavior. They said the increase in Muslim immigration has had a negative effect on civic and social life, with almost 80 percent saying relations between Muslims and non-Muslims had become strained.
Government-backed initiatives to acculturate Muslim immigrants had failed, respondents said, as most believed that many immigrants had walled themselves off from Western society in an attempt to create outposts of their home cultures on Dutch soil.
Some government-sponsored moves to welcome Muslims have sparked controversy. In an address to parliament on June 6, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende applauded Queen Beatrix for agreeing not to shake hands with the leaders of the Mobarak Mosque in The Hague during a state visit to commemorate the mosque's 50th anniversary on June 2.
Queen Beatrix agreed not to shake hands with the Muslim leaders in deference to their belief that Islam forbids men to touch women other than their wives. This move was a laudable "example of religious tolerance," the prime minister said, that would make Muslims feel more welcome.
Conservative MP Geert Wilders said he was "purple" with rage at the queen's decision, calling it "dhimmi behavior." A dhimmi is a person of the dhimma, an Arabic term that refers in Islamic law to the pact of surrender contracted between non-Muslims and their Muslim conquerors.
"The queen and Prime Minister Balkenende are putting Dutch norms and values in a bargain sale," Wilders said.
The MP said the government, "under the pretext of tolerance, is selling out Dutch values such as equality between men and women." "We must instead make the case for Dutch norms and values," Wilders said.
The Brussels Journal commented that Queen Beatrix's tolerance appeared only to extend to Muslims, reporting that in 1982 she refused to meet with an Orthodox Jewish group because they didn't shake hands with women.
According to the justice and interior ministers, the threat of terrorism from radical Islam is "substantial."
The ministers told parliament that a "rapid spread of the Jihadistic ideology" was underway, with a number of moderate mosques passing under the control of Islamist ideologues.
"Radical movements, like Salafism, are currently gaining influence rapidly, both on the Internet and in more and more mosques. They prefer to use the Dutch language so that more and more young Muslims are reached, with all possible radicalization risks as a result," the ministers said.
The ministry report warned of possible repercussions from the upcoming release of former Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali's film Submission 2, which criticizes Islam for intolerance of homosexuals. The report said, "Controversial debates or artistic quotes about Islam in the Netherlands can be abused by radical Muslims abroad to agitate against the Netherlands."
Citing the Muhammad cartoon controversy in Denmark, the report suggested that Muslim reaction to Hirsi Ali's film could be violent. "Not only political interests but also economic interests as well as the safety of embassies and Dutch troops abroad can be in jeopardy," the report said.