Most Dutch See Muslims as Threat - Poll

A large majority of Dutch people are afraid of Muslims, according to a poll taken after the murder of a Dutch filmmaker critical of Islam.

The poll, conducted by TNS NIPO in The Netherlands, as well as in Spain and Italy, since the November murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a suspected radical Islamist, showed only 19 percent of Dutch people do not see the presence of Muslims in the country as a threat.

Home to almost 1 million Muslims or 6 percent of the population, The Netherlands' reputation for tolerance and social harmony has been shattered by the murder and a wave of attacks on mosques and churches and death threats against politicians.

Racial tensions surfaced again this week after a Dutch woman killed a youth with Moroccan roots after he stole her bag.

Highlights of the poll, to be launched formally on Monday, were published by De Volkskrant daily on Saturday.

The newspaper said the results were surprising given that Spain and Italy were much more frequently confronted with illegal immigration of Muslims from North Africa than the Dutch.

The survey showed 67 percent of Dutch people had no contact with Muslims and 65 percent hardly know anything about Islam in spite of broad coverage in the media.

Those who see Muslims as a threat say they are afraid they will eventually have to live under Islamic religious rules. Those living outside big cities, women and the well educated were more likely to have negative views, the newspaper said.

Half the Dutch polled said they would move house if their neighborhood became more dominated by immigrants and the same proportion said they were afraid women would no longer be able to move about freely in public because of Muslims.

Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a member of parliament for the VVD liberals who made a film with Van Gogh accusing Islam of condoning violence against women, made a defiant return to public life on Tuesday after going underground after his murder.