Dutch Muslims and Christians called for an end to a cycle of retaliatory vandalism of mosques and churches as slain filmmaker Theo van Gogh was cremated, a week after his killing by a suspected Islamic radical.
About 150 people gathered yesterday at the De Nieuwe Ooster Crematorium, while hundreds more watched on a screen outside and mourners left flowers, cigarettes and beer at a makeshift monument where the filmmaker was killed.
The Netherlands has been tense in the aftermath of his death, with attacks on both mosques and churches.
Hours after Van Gogh’s funeral, suspected arsonists burned down a Muslim school in the southern town of Uden where someone had scrawled “Theo Rest in Peace” on the building.
Molotov cocktails caused minor damage at churches in Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amersfoort on Monday night following a half-dozen similar incidents at Muslim buildings, including a bomb explosion at an Islamic school early Monday morning.
No injuries were reported at any of the incidents.
Van Gogh, who received death threats for a movie criticising the treatment of women under Islam, was shot and stabbed while bicycling on a busy Amsterdam street.
The killer cut his throat and left a note threatening further attacks in the name of radical Islam impaled on Van Gogh’s chest.
The murder prompted an outpouring of rage aimed mostly at the Muslim minority, which makes up about 6% of the Dutch population.
Six men are in custody on suspicion of forming a terrorist conspiracy to kill Van Gogh, including the 26-year-old alleged killer Mohammed Bouyeri, a dual Dutch-Moroccan citizen who was arrested in a shoot-out with police.
A newspaper reported yesterday that a suspected terrorist network believed responsible for Van Gogh’s killing had access to confidential secret service intelligence.
The NRC Handelsblad newspaper, citing an internal secret service investigation, reported that a friend of Bouyeri received an unmarked envelope last summer with information about extremist networks of which he allegedly was a member.
The Dutch secret service admitted information had been leaked when police found confidential agency information at a house in Utrecht during a terrorism-related search in September.
Bouyeri allegedly is a member of a radical Islamic group said to have ties to terrorists in Spain and Syria.
Jan-Gerd Heetderks, dean of the Netherlands’ Protestant Churches, said “the violence, the aggression must stop. And that goes for people who get the idea that they should damage Muslim mosques or schools, too.”
Mainstream Muslim groups condemned the killing and asked the government to protect mosques after the explosion at the Muslim school in Eindhoven on Monday.