The sense of shock over the terrorist attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon was great in the Netherlands, and both printed
and broadcast news expressed great sympathy for the victims, their
families and friends. Reports also focussed on many explicit condemnations
of the attacks, ranging from the Prime Minister's address to the
nation to statements made by Islamic leaders in the Netherlands.
Just as in other European Union nations, three minutes of silence
were observed on Friday, 14 September. This was unprecedented, and
not only were people silent, but all traffic stopped, all broadcasts
were silenced, etc.
Kerdriel Three minutes of silence in honor of the
terror victims in America, observed along a Dutch highway.
ANP Foto/Copyright Gerard Damoiseaux
Thousands of people spontaneously came to the American embassy
in The Hague and the consulate in Amsterdam to offer their condolances.
Memorial services were held, and members of the Dutch government
and the Royal Family joined in with the public. Many older people
remembered with gratitude America's role in liberating the Netherlands
in World War II. However, there were also reports of demonstrations
of joy from small groups of Moroccan and Turkish children, causing
some furious - almost racist - reactions. Although strongly condemming
these activities, there was some understanding of the demonstrations
of joy from Palestinian supporters because of the ongoing war there
and the US's role as a supporter of Israel. Several attacks on Moslims
in the Netherlands were reported, and were roundly condemned by
officials and the public alike.
Extensive press coverage was given to the reactions from other
countries - from the activities of neighboring countries such as
Germany, France and the UK, to Arafat's donation of blood for the
victims, to the reactions in countries such as Israel or Indonesia.
The coverage emphasized the global impact of the events in the US,
and stressed that international prayers and sympathy were being
directed towards the victims and their loved ones.
During the first two days of coverage, two of the three public
television stations devoted full coverage to the events, one with
Dutch coverage and comments, the other with material from CNN and
the BBC (British Broadcast Company) for those people who did not
have cable television. Newspapers commented on the coverage, preferring
the more "in-depth" analysis of the BBC to the "who-dunnit" approach
of CNN. Both television and printed reports called upon university
and research institute experts for interviews and opinions. In general,
Dutch television offered a much broader international approach to
the problems than the American networks. More recently, the Dutch
press has been unified in its calls upon President Bush for reflection
and moderation in response to the terrorists. The nature of the
problem does not lend itself to traditional military solutions,
and some called for a reconsideration of the US's military role
in certain international affairs, particularly its support of dictatorships
in the Middle East.
Many children were anxious over the fact that this kind of attack
could happen anywhere, even potentially in the Netherlands. Thus,
the public broadcasters carried special news coverage for young
children. In addition, plans are afoot to construct a special web
site for children, providing them with background and insights that
relate to their own experience. (As of this writing, the site is
Impressions: 11-15 September
- The attack on WTC and Pentagon was not just perceived as an
attack on the symbols of the US, but also as an attack on the
West's "open, democratic, multicultural and tolerant society."
- True, the WTC can be taken as a symbol for America, but the
word 'world' in World Trade Center should also be taken literally:
people with 32 different nationalities worked and died there,
so it is indeed an attack on the world.
- The Dutch government fully supports the US, but Prime Minister
Kok urged the Americans to react in accordance with the principles
and values of western democracy. There is growing concern over
America's 'war' declarations.
- Press commentators were not impressed with President Bush's
first reactions, particularly his long delay in returning to Washington;
however, they see him as "growing into his job."
- Commentators express a growing concern over the American responses
and language - the new war - and the implications of Article
5 of NATO: one should first know who the enemy is, and how to
respond against de-territorialized terrorists. There was also
concern also over the_ _carte blanche__ given to the US
military. Europe and the world may not yet realize the full implications
of what is now happening in the US.
- The U.S. is building up a political coalition - necessary because
of the large scale of retaliation - for the first war of the
21st century. Europe will have to consider its role in this situation
very carefully particularly since President Bush won't accept
a compromise. The perception is that Bush will measure Europe's
sincerity and loyality by the way they stand behind him
- Commentators are concerned over the policy of the U.S. towards
Pakistan - and the strong potential of destabilizing the already
delicate position of the government by forcing it to be either
friend or foe.
- In a public opnion poll released on 14 September, 75% of the
Dutch supported Dutch involment in an American/NATO military response,
even though 50% feared that this would come back to haunt the
- Finally, many commentators asked for honest self-reflection
on the part of the US and the rest of the Western world about
their role and attitude towards other parts of the world, especially
the Middle East. We have to find out what drives people to take
actions of this sort. Some defined the problems as a conflict
between the first and the third world, between the haves and have-nots.
Marja is a Visiting Scholar in Comparative Media Studies at
MIT from the Department of History at the Erasmus University Rotterdam,
About the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a small prosperous Western European nation
located along the North Sea and bordering both Germany and Belgium.
Its capital is Amsterdam. The Netherlands is a member of the European
Union and NATO. It is a traditional - and sometimes critical -
ally of the US.
The country has approximately 16 million inhabitants. Its minorities
come mainly from Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles/Aruba, Morocco,
and Turkey, and its main religions are Christianity and (among many
About Dutch Media
Televison and radio broadcasting: The Dutch have a mixed public
and commercial broadcasting environment. The strong tradition of
public television and radio gives different political, religious,
and social groups the right to produce and broadcast programming
of their choice. News, however, is coordinated by the various public
broadcasting companies. The country also has commercial broadcasting
service, similar to the United States. Cable television carries
stations from Britain, France, Germany, the US, Belgium, Italy,
Turkey and so on. Many Turks and Moroccans also have satellite dishes
and receive direct broadcasts from their home countries.
Newspapers: The Dutch newspapers are generally broad in their
coverage and centerist in their political orientation, with socialist
or conservative accents. The Netherlands does not have tabloid dailies.
The most important newspapers are de Volkskrant, de Telegraaf,
Algemeen Dagblad, the NRC, Trouw, and Het Parool. 90%
of the circulation is by subscription.
Although small, the Netherlands has a long history of international
investment and trade. As a result, international news coverage tends
to be quite extensive, particularly regarding the US, Europe, and
the Middle East. Most of the population can speak and read English
in addition to other languages.
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