Bag Thief Death Fans Dutch Racial Tensions

Reuters, Jan. 21

The death of a man with Moroccan roots who was run over by a woman after he stole her bag has inflamed Dutch racial tensions that have smouldered since the murder of a filmmaker critical of Islam.

Several hundred people, including many Moroccans, marched on Friday from the site in an immigrant neighbourhood in Amsterdam where the 19-year-old died on Monday. The woman whose bag he stole drove her car into his moped, crushing him against a tree.

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Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende was forced on Friday to defend Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, who said the woman had not committed murder and the death would never have happened if the youth had not stolen the bag. A placard reading “Verdonk, murderess” was placed at the site of the death.

Van Gogh’s murder on November 2 triggered a series of attacks on mosques and churches and a wave of death threats against politicians, including Verdonk and Wilders, shattering the Netherlands’ reputation for tolerance.

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