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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 21:50 GMT 22:50 UK
Thousands protest at politician's murder
Marchers in Rotterdam mourn Pim Fortuyn
The killing has shocked the Netherlands
Thousands of people have taken part in a rally in the Dutch city of Rotterdam in protest at the assassination of right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn.

Pim Fortuyn
Fortuyn: Described Islam as "backward"
The Dutch Government has announced next week's general election will go ahead as planned, despite Fortuyn's murder on Monday evening.

Police say they have detained their prime suspect in the case - a 32-year-old white Dutchman.

Reports say he was an animal-rights activist angered by Fortuyn's calls to lift a ban on fur farming.

The public prosecutor said ammunition was found at the suspect's house, matching the calibre of the bullets which killed Fortuyn. Police also removed environmental literature from his home.

Fortuyn, 54, an openly gay politician who was attracting widespread support for his policy of restricting immigration to the Netherlands, was shot dead outside a radio station by a lone gunman.

Election go-ahead

Rotterdam was Fortuyn's home and political base, and crowds there marched and chanted in protest at the killing, which has shocked the country.

Fortuyn's policies
Halt immigration
Integrate existing immigrants
Re-erect Dutch border controls
Sack 25% of civil servants
End Dutch system of consensus politics
The BBC's Tim Franks in Rotterdam, says as well as Fortuyn's supporters, many people joined the march to express their sorrow that this should happen in the easy-going Netherlands.

Prime Minister Wim Kok met political leaders on Tuesday - including members of Fortuyn's right-wing party - before announcing that there would be no postponement of the 15 May poll.

"It would be sensible not to change the original date," Mr Kok told reporters, adding that the decision meant that "democracy had prevailed".

During Tuesday's meeting with Mr Kok, Fortuyn's party - Fortuyn's List - requested that the election be held as originally planned.

"Of course we took into serious consideration what we heard from Pim Fortuyn's List, but also the opinions of the other political parties," Mr Kok said.

Sympathy vote

The BBC's Tim Franks says that some of Fortuyn's supporters are keen to press ahead with the poll, believing they will never have a better chance of winning support for a radical anti-immigration manifesto.

Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok
Wim Kok: "A dark shadow has fallen over the Netherlands"
It is not clear yet whether the party will retain the name of its late leader. A new leader is due to be chosen after the elections.

Minutes after making the election announcement, the Dutch prime minister led a minute's silence in the upper house of Parliament in memory of Fortuyn.

"A dark shadow has fallen over the Netherlands that has given way to deep emotions," he told the house.

The murder has also caused consternation across Europe, with leaders expressing horror that such violence could erupt on the Dutch political scene.

'Close the borders'

Fortuyn came to prominence in March when his party made a strong showing in local elections in Rotterdam.

He provoked public indignation by calling for the Netherlands' borders to be closed to immigrants and by describing Islam as a "backward" religion.

Eyewitnesses said a single gunman shot Fortuyn as he got into a chauffeur-driven limousine in a media park after a radio interview in the city of Hilversum, near Amsterdam.

He was hit six times, suffering multiple wounds in the head, chest and neck, and died shortly afterwards.

In an interview last week, Fortuyn expressed fears that he might be the victim of an attack and said he had received threats by phone, email and letter.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Paul Andersson reports from Rotterdam
"Fortuyn's party officials lobbied hard for the vote to be held on schedule"
See also:

07 May 02 | Europe
Analysis: The immigration message
07 May 02 | Uefa Cup
Uefa Cup final goes ahead
07 May 02 | Europe
Dutch press in shock
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