May 2, 2005
By BosNewsLife News Center
Amsterdam, Netherlands (BosNewsLife)-- Human rights group Open Doors has warned Christians in the Netherlands they may soon be persecuted, an influential Dutch evangelical newspaper reported.
In its May edition, 'Uitdaging' (Challenge) said Open Doors developed a "power of defense handbook" to help Dutch believers prepare for the expected persecution. "That time may come sooner than we think," Open Doors spokesman Jeno Sebok told Uitdaging.
Sebok reportedly said that Christians could be threatened by "the spread of Islam" or even the government. "That is perhaps difficult for us to imagine now, but the situation [of religious tolerance] can easily change," he was quoted as saying.
Open Doors, which investigates the plight of suffering Christians, already has a defense course for persecuted believers worldwide. But it recently asked the Canadian author of the study to write a book that would focus on the Dutch and European situation, Uitdaging reported.
Analysts say religious tensions have been rising in the Netherlands, which was based on Reformist principles, but is now home to nearly one million Muslims or 5.5% of the population.
Last year, Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh was assassinated by a suspected militant for criticizing the abuse of Muslim women.
He had just completed a movie about the May 2002 assassination of Pim Fortuyn, a Dutch politician whose popularity rested partly on his opposition to illegal immigrants. Another liberal Member of Parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who helped Van Gogh with his Muslim film, has been under special police protection after receiving death threats, Dutch media said.
It is unclear whether the handbook for persecuted Dutch Christians will be ready by October 8, when Open Doors celebrates its 50th anniversary. Human rights watchdogs say in 2004, about 170,000 Christians were killed because of their faith. Worldwide, thousands of other believers are detained and tortured, according to church sources. (With BosNewsLife Research, reports from the Netherlands, and Stefan J. Bos)