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For Dutch Muslims, there's a chill in the air Add to ...

Now, the immigration minister has introduced culture and language tests for those applying to live in the Netherlands, who are also shown a video on Dutch life that includes flags, windmills, a brief biography of William of Orange, a gay wedding and topless women sunbathing. It used to be that, since the Second World War, any hint of nationalism here was met with deep suspicion. But the citizenship tests have met with approval from politicians across the spectrum.

"The identity of the Dutch is still 18th-century Golden Age with ships," laughs Tarik Yousef, a 28-year-old Dutch-Moroccan sipping hot chocolate in an Oosterpark café. "That's not a part of my identity."

Mr. Yousef grew up in the Netherlands and now publishes an ethnic magazine called Hallal, and is about to launch a broadcasting channel on the Internet. He says it would be difficult to tell teenagers who carry dual citizenship to "go home" -- they would also be foreigners in Morocco.

But the inability to identity positively with Dutch culture makes it easy for young disaffected men to turn to Islam, says Mr. Massari: "It's not about religion, it's about identity. Islam offers a strong identity. So you see people change from petty thieves to devout Muslims. I've seen it happen in a day, just like that," he says. "Parents don't object" because at least it means their kids are not breaking the law, he says.

At the Reitzstraat square, Mr. Massari nods towards the satellite dishes. They have proliferated like mushrooms in ethnic neighbourhoods earning them the nickname "satellite cities." The content is beamed from the Arab world. The most popular shows are Egyptian soap operas, but there is also anti-Semitic and anti-Western programming.

"The Moroccans, they have a feeling of being in touch with their homeland. State news, state television, al-Jazeera and religious programs are very popular. They also learn from imams in the Arab world how to live as good Muslims."

The Dutch security service is monitoring 150 extremists with suspected al-Qa'eda links. Mr. Bouyeri was not one of them. The hard-line clerics are recruited from Egypt or Syria and don't speak Dutch. Most of Holland's 500 mosques are moderate and law-abiding, often run by Turkish clerics. But a handful, perhaps five, are cause for worry. They include the al-Tawheed mosque in Amsterdam, where three of the 9/11 hijackers met during a 1999 conference.

Now, along with the legal seminars imams are required to take, the government wants to introduce training in moderate theology, which would breach the divide between church and state. Muslim leaders ask if the Vatican would approve of the Dutch government training Catholic priests.

Mr. Massari stops at a basketball court sponsored by Nike. The swoosh trademark is printed on the backboard of the hoop. A group of teenaged boys are playing basketball, and Mr. Massari calls over one young boy, with pimples and a voice still cracking, and asks him what he considers his identity.

"Muslim first," the Moroccan-Dutch boy says, as his friends nod.

Why? "Because I'm on the Muslims' side. We pray, fast at Ramadan and read the Koran. Some Dutch seem to hate us."

Hamida Ghafour is a Canadian journalist currently in England working on a book.

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