The public disturbances this week in Utrecht are receiving considerable coverage in the foreign media. Not through the traditional news agencies but through the internet via far-right websites and blogs.
Under headlines such as ‘race riot in Holland’ the events are being portrayed as the white working class finally revolting against the pro-Muslim police.
Rumour, fact, eyewitness statements, chat room talk and all manner of prejudices are being mixed into a deeply unpleasant stew.
The neo-Nazis and nationalists are circulating a story that Rinie Mulder was shot dead by a female Muslim police officer while he was defending a pregnant woman against Muslim youths. The white working-class man, they say, has had enough.
The Dutch press, by contrast, has not made any mention of race in its coverage. The headlines have not screamed ‘White youths on the rampage’ although one could imagine the headlines if the gangs who burned down a community centre and stoned police had been Moroccan or Antillean.
Politicians of all colours, even anti-immigration and anti Muslim MP Geert Wilders, have been remarkably quiet. And we still know very little about the shooting itself. The wall of silence may be self-imposed so as not to inflame the situation. But instead it is feeding the far right-wing rumour mill.
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