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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 November, 2004, 13:09 GMT
Mosque set on fire in Netherlands
Inside the burnt-out mosque in Helden
Police said the mosque was too badly damaged to be usable
A fire has badly damaged a mosque in the Netherlands, in what may be the latest in a series of arson attacks.

Police said the small wooden mosque, in the south-eastern village of Helden, near the German border, had caught light early on Saturday.

They said it was not immediately clear if arsonists were behind the attack.

There have been more than 20 incidents of fires or vandalism at Muslim buildings since the murder of the controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh.

Tensions high

There has also been a string of retaliatory attacks on Christian churches.

A police spokeswoman in Helden said the mosque was now unusable as most of it had burnt down. No-one was hurt in the fire.

Dutch views on Van Gogh's death

Investigators are working to establish the cause of the blaze, which started at about 0600 (0500 GMT).

"We are seriously taking into account the possibility it was arson," the spokeswoman said.

The fire may cast a shadow over Eid celebrations marking the end of Ramadan for Helden's Muslim population.

Tensions have been running high in the Netherlands since Van Gogh's death on 2 November.

His suspected killer, an alleged Muslim radical of Dutch-Moroccan nationality, has been arrested.

The Dutch parliament has been debating how to deal with deteriorating relations between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

Map of the Netherlands with Helden

There have been calls from some right-wing politicians to deport radical Muslim clerics and close down mosques where they operate.

MPs have asked the government to draft new legislation forcing Dutch mosques to employ only imams who have studied Islamic religion in the Netherlands. The proposal has attracted wide support.





SEE ALSO:
Dutch Islamic school set ablaze
09 Nov 04 |  Europe
Kurds move to end Turkish truce
29 May 04 |  Europe
Dutch step up Muslim protection
08 Nov 04 |  Europe



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