AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Paul Hiltemann had noticed a darkening mood in the Netherlands. He runs an agency for people wanting to emigrate, and his client list had surged.
But he was taken aback in November when a Dutch filmmaker was shot and his throat slit on an Amsterdam street.
In the weeks that followed, Hiltemann was inundated by e-mail messages and telephone calls.
"There was a big panic, a flood of people saying they wanted to leave the country," he said.
....This small nation is a magnet for immigrants, but statistics suggest there is a quickening flight of the white middle class. Dutch people pulling up roots said they felt a general pessimism about their small and crowded country and about the social tensions that had grown along with the waves of newcomers, most of them Muslims.
....Those leaving have been mostly lured by English-speaking nations such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, where they said they hope to feel less constricted.
...."Our Web site got 13,000 hits in the weeks after the van Gogh killing," said Frans Buysse, who runs an agency that handles paperwork for departing Dutch. "That's four times the normal rate."
....To Hiltemann, the emigration consultant, what is remarkable is the type of Dutch people leaving. "They are successful people, I mean, urban professionals, managers, physiotherapists, computer specialists," he said. Five years ago, he said, most of his clients were farmers looking for more land.
Buysse, who employs a staff of eight to process visas, concurred. He said farmers continued emigrating as Europe cut agricultural subsidies. "What is new," he said, "is that Dutch people who are rich or at least very comfortable are now wanting to leave the country."