The diffusion of racist violence in the Netherlands: Discourse and distance
Currently images and reports are circulating around the globe of the televised court trial of Anders Behring Breivik, the man arrested for the July 22 2011 killing spree in Norway where he claimed 77 victims. The incident executed in the killer’s mind to save Europe from destruction at the hands of radical Islam, has devastated the country and shocked the world. Is this case the actions of a lone extremist or does it reflect the unanticipated but intense waves of xenophobia that have swept through Western Europe over the last decade? Could it prompt more incidents by like minded people? This article uses data to simultaneously investigate the geographical and temporal development of waves of racist violence specifically in the Netherlands during the turbulent period 2001–03, when the country lost its reputation as a multicultural paradise. The results provide evidence for the fact that previous riots enhance the legitimacy of violence elsewhere, especially if they are visible in the mass media, resonate with public debates on immigration and take place in nearby regions. This study demonstrates that the outbreak of violence is related to city size. It highlights that European cities are characterized by an explosive combination of sociocultural segregation and economic interdependence. This dual process activates cultural cleavages while at the same time increasing the number of between-group interactions, both of which are necessary conditions for the outbreak of ethnic conflict.