Closing of Borders May Affect Missions in Netherlands, Says Missionary

After the death of a controversial Dutch filmmaker that precipitated at least 13 arson attacks on mosques, churches and Islamic schools across the Netherlands last month, the future of open borders in Netherlands has been brought into question.

"More and more people are now saying, 'Well Holland is just full and we already have enough people who are not integrating, let's close the borders. Let's force those who are here to integrate into our society and we can't have them trying to take over',” Missionary David Boyd with Baptist Mid-missions told Mission Network News (MNN). “Holland has traditionally been a very tolerant nation and it's now taking a different direction."

Boyd says the Netherlands has gone from a nation of tolerance, to division.

Since the Nov. 2 killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a suspected Muslim radical, there were numerous reports of fires and vandalism at Muslim buildings—and a handful of retaliatory attacks on Christian churches. Van Gogh’s murder, which was linked to Islamic extremists, had also brought calls for a crackdown on fundamentalists and renegade preachers, news agencies reported.

Van Gogh, who had made a controversial film about Islamic culture, was shot and stabbed to death in Amsterdam as he cycled to work. A note pinned to his chest with a knife threatened Islamic holy war, or Jihad, against non-Muslims.

Since then, racial tension and hostility towards foreigners has been on the rise. According to MNN, a politician who's hoping to lead the governing party is already speaking out about the borders. "He has already announced that, 'I will close the borders and force the people that we already have to integrate or they'll get kicked out,'" reported Boyd.

While the problems could affect religious freedom, the missionary said it could affect something else. "I have my questions about what it's going to do for missions in the Netherlands, for instance, from the United States. If a decision is made in parliament that the borders are closed, that will include all foreigners, Muslim foreigners and Christian foreigners," Boyd told MNN.

He also questioned whether they would be able to get missionaries into the Netherlands to do the work.