Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of Rotterdam, Netherlands, attends the opening session of the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, February 17, 2015. AFP/SAUL LOEB
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As Rotterdam's mayor and a former government minister, Ahmad Aboutaleb is a voice of mainstream liberal Dutch values. As a Muslim immigrant from Morocco, he is also a prominent member of a community that many Europeans increasingly see as being in conflict with those values. The fact that a prominent Dutch Muslim repudiated that view in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks made waves as a powerful expression of this shift in the Netherlands and throughout Europe, from a live-and-let-live society to one in which new arrivals are pushed to embrace Western customs and values.The Van Gogh murder triggered a temporary spike in hate crimes against Muslims, but the more enduring legacy was to drive the liberal nation more toward the anti-Islam policies pushed by the populist Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, which has entrenched its presence as one of the nation's most powerful political forces.Fatima Elatik, a Muslim former alderman in eastern Amsterdam, says laws alone are not enough to counter extremist propaganda. She sees the need for a grass-roots effort among Dutch of all walks of life to bring troubled Muslim youths into the mainstream fold.Ian Buruma, a Dutch professor of human rights and journalism at Bard College, wrote an acclaimed book on Van Gogh's murder and Dutch tolerance.
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