Dutch officials visited the Dearborn area this week to discern why Muslims are more accepted in the United States than in the Netherlands. Dutch Cabinet Minister Francis Timmermans and an entourage of officials met with 35 local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders at the Islamic Center of America. We are good at allowing people to make their own choices,” said Timmermans, the European minister of The Netherlands, reflecting on the long tolerance for multiple Christian denominations in his country. “But were we good at dialogue? This world needs dialogue.”
Timmermans stated that there has been an ideological shift in the way that Muslim-Dutch issues are viewed in Dutch society, and that this shift changed after the attacks on September 11th, 2001. Before this, problems of integration of immigrants were often described as issued related to youth and young people, but “since 9/11, all of these people have simply become Muslims. This is simply, probably a knee-jerk reaction to fear in the society. The Dutch officials spent an entire day engaging with representatives from the Dearborn community, to examine ways in which social and religious tensions, and difficulties sometimes caused by “free speech,” are dealt with differently in the United States.