The Dutch are rethinking their famously liberal polices on legalised brothels, prostitution and soft drugs, such as magic mushrooms and cannabis, amid fears of growing crime and social decline.
New restrictions on marijuana selling cafés, a ban on the sale of magic mushrooms and plans to clean up Amsterdam's red light district have been announced across Holland.
"The nation's ideals are being tested by the reality they brought," said sociologist Dick Houtman of Rotterdam's Erasmus University.
"The Netherlands went further in allowing all sorts of liberties than many other countries. The test is severe. There is a feeling that our tolerance is the principal cause of many of the problems we experience now. The debate is about where liberty and tolerance should end and where order should begin."
A national ban on hallucinogenic "padda" or magic mushrooms entered into force on Dec 1 after being blamed for the death last March of a 17-year old French girl, a drug tourist to Amsterdam.
"Coffee shop" cafés, legalised to sell cannabis, since 1976 have been closed, and more restrictions are to come, by city councils concerned at their link to organised crime and the often unpopular and disorderly hordes of marijuana tourists attracted to the Netherlands.
Last week, Amsterdam announced that it planned to halve the number of its shop window brothels and cannabis cafés in an attempt to drive pimps, money launderers and criminals out of the city.
Now the Dutch government has announced new plans to strictly regulate the sex industry, massage parlours and brothels more by imposing a tough licensing system to drive out organised crime.
"The country is turning more conservative," said historian and author Han van den Horst. "There is a move away from sex, drugs and rock'n'roll towards some pretty bourgeois values."
The murder of the anti-Islam film-maker Theo Van Gogh and the rise of populist anti-Muslim politicians such as Geert Wilders have led to strong perceptions that liberal immigration policy has damaged secular and egalitarian values in one of Europe's most crowded countries.
"The change started out as a rightist phenomenon, but is now becoming more of a mainstream feeling. It is gaining legitimacy and credibility among the working classes," said Mr Houtman.
Hookers and Dope
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