An estimated 20,000 people have taken part in an anti-terror march in Germany. Many of those in the crowd were of Turkish origin. They had two messages: firstly to condemn violent attacks on Muslims; secondly to condemn the actions of some Islamic extremists. The demonstration in the city of Cologne is a reaction to increasing debate over the role of the country’s 3.5 million Muslims in German society.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has urged the Islamic community to help fight extremism and work harder to integrate itself. Conservative politician Guenther Beckstein said, “The demonstrators must make an effort to make sure that they and their children speak good German.”
The Berlin government believes improving language skills will help tackle the problem of ethnic and religious groups becoming cut off from mainstream society. Across the border in the Netherlands the same issues are top of the agenda after a wave of tit-for-tat attacks on Muslim and Christian targets. Pop stars held a concert in Amsterdam in a spirit of unity. The country has been shocked by the death of controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh – a Dutchman of Moroccan origin has been charged with his murder.