How absolutely, depressingly fitting — and neither shocking nor any less tragic for its familiarity — that on the day Americans are expressing their political opinions in the collective polling booth, that a Dutch filmmaker was murdered for creating a film critical of Islam:
- Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh, who made a controversial film about Islamic culture, has been stabbed and shot dead in Amsterdam, Dutch police say.
Police arrested a man in a nearby park after an exchange of gunfire. The man, aged 26, had joint Dutch and Moroccan nationality, they said.
Van Gogh, 47, had received death threats after his film Submission was shown on Dutch TV.
It portrayed violence against women in Islamic societies.
The film was made with liberal Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who fled an arranged marriage.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been under police protection since the film was aired. She has also received death threats and has renounced the Islamic faith.
….Eyewitnesses quoted by Radio Netherlands said Van Gogh was attacked while cycling by a man dressed in a traditional Moroccan jallaba.
….The film Submission told the story of a Muslim woman forced into an arranged marriage who is abused by her husband and raped by her uncle. It triggered an outcry from Dutch Muslims.
In one scene the film showed an actress in see-through garments with Koranic script written on her body, which also bore whip marks.
The Netherlands is home to nearly one million Muslims or 5.5% of the population.
One of the film maker’s colleagues at the film production company said Van Gogh had received death threats “but he never took them quite seriously”. [BBC]
A note was found at the scene and, Dutch media said, it contained lines from the Koran. Van Gogh was the great-grandnephew of Vincent.
Reuters has more:
- Van Gogh, who branded imams women-haters and ridiculed the Prophet Mohammad in his newspaper columns, was hailed as a champion of free speech by some Dutch but others called him an extremist, while Muslims said they found his work insulting.
….Several thousand people demonstrated on Amsterdam’s central Dam square and railway drivers were urged to honk their horns to protest the murder.
People banged on drums, pots and pans and blew whistles for some 15 minutes, with some participants holding up signs saying “Muslims against Violence.”
Abdou Menebhi, of the Amsterdam Moroccan council, urged his co-religionists to obey a minute of silence in the mosque in the evening during regular Ramadan holy month prayers.
The UMAH association of Moroccan-Dutch academics said they did not share Van Gogh’s opinions but condemned his murder.
Very glad to hear it.
And yet more from AP:
- One unidentified witness who lives in the neighborhood told the Dutch national broadcaster NOS that she heard six shots and saw a man with a long beard and wearing Islamic garb concealing a gun.
Another witness told Dutch Radio 1 the killer arrived by bicycle and shot Van Gogh as he got out of a car.
“The shooter stayed next to him and waited. Waited to make sure he was dead,” the witness said.
Doesn’t sound like a, um, robbery.
- The filmmaker had often come under criticism for his controversial movies, and he wrote columns about Islam on his Web site and for the Dutch newspaper Metro.
He has had formal complaints filed against him for making alleged anti-Jewish, anti-Christian and anti-Muslim comments in interviews and columns that he wrote. His many provocative statements including mocking a prominent Dutch Jew, making references to “the rotten fish” of Nazareth and calling a radical Muslim politician “Allah’s pimp.”
Sounds like one of Allah’s pimps got him.
The BBC has more on Van Gogh’s career:
- his films were regularly nominated at the Nederlands Film Festival, where he won five awards, dating from 1981.
A movie called 06, about a young woman who advertises her services for phone sex, was made in 1994 and became one of his best-known works. It was renamed 1-900 for the US market.
Blind Date, two years later, featured a bartender listening to two customers talk and 2004’s Cool! was about the rehabilitation of a gang of young criminals.
Van Gogh also found success making TV programmes.
Among his highlights was Najib en Julia, a modern reworking of Romeo and Juliet that saw a Dutch girl fall in love with a Moroccan pizza delivery boy.
The director’s most recent project was 06-05, a movie about Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, who was also assassinated in 2002.