almost as a Dutch cliché: murder on a bike.
When 47 year old
Theo van Gogh was cycling to work on Tuesday morning in
Amsterdam, he was overtaken by a younger cyclist,
dressed in an Arabian djellabah. The 26 year old, a
pulled a gun, shot and wounded van Gogh. The latter
dropped his bike and stumbled across the street,
followed by the younger man, who shot him again.
Then the whole
scene turned into
Jihad. The assaillant jumped on van Gogh, pulled a
knife and slit his throat. He planted the knife into
van Gogh`s chest and a second knife, with a note
Koranic verses, into his stomach.
If this had been
a movie scene, it could have been one of van Gogh`s own.
Like Vincent, his
great-great-grandfather`s brother, Theo van Gogh was an
artist who tended to shock people. He made his first
movies in the early 1980s. They were orgies of blood and
In van Gogh`s first film,
Luger (1981), a women had a pistol put into her
vagina and was blasted away. Most people, however,
realising that the blood on the screen was mere ketchup
and red paint, were more upset about the kittens that
the moviemaker had put in a washing machine. They were
animal rights activists had been around in the 80s,
van Gogh might already have been shot twenty years ago.
Theo van Gogh
was a foul-mouthed, ugly man who described himself as
"a ram of fat." He particularly liked to upset
religious people. He began with
insulting Christians, but as this was not considered
particularly shocking in the tolerant Holland of the
late 20th century, he soon moved on to insulting Jews.
Van Gogh had
noticed that it was politically incorrect to say
anything unpleasant about Jews, so he decided to make
them his prime target.
Anne Frank, he said, was the Dutch people`s own "holy
virgin." In a column he wrote that cremated Jewish
diabetics must have smelled of caramel, and when a
Jewish woman protested, he told her she fantasised about
"sex with Dr. Mengele."
In an interview
in 1996 van Gogh acknowledged he was "a piece of
sh-t," but added "and so are you."
By the turn of
the century, having shocked enough Jews, van Gogh went
after the new "sacred cow" of the multicultural
elite: the Muslims. On his website
"De gezonde roker" (The healthy
smoker), chain-smoking van Gogh called Muslims
"goat f-ckers." Their prophet Muhammed, he said, was
"a f-cker of little girls," their God "a pig
called Allah," and Dyab Abu Jahjah, the charismatic
leader of young Dutch and Flemish radical Muslims,
"the prophet`s pimp."
What the Muslims
needed most, according to van Gogh, was a moviemaker
"Life of Brian" about their
religion, so that people could have a good laugh at
their expense. He added that he would love to make such
after the murder of his friend Pim Fortuyn by an animal
rights activist, whether he was not afraid of being
killed as well, van Gogh said: "No. Who would want to
kill the village idiot?"
As it turned
out, his big mistake was that, unlike
Christians and Jews, Muslims do not seem to be very
tolerant of village idiots. Consequently, van Gogh
was butchered in the holy month of Ramadan by a fanatic
who had just finished his morning prayers in the mosque.
Is it a
coincidence that the murder happened on 2 November,
exactly 911 days after the murder of Fortuyn on 6 May
2002? It is ironic that van Gogh was murdered only a few
days after completing the documentary
reason for Van Gogh murder, however, was the ten minute
"Submission." The film, which deals with the
abuse of Muslim women and was broadcast on Dutch
television in late August. It showed abused women whose
naked bodies were visible through their transparent
chadors and gowns. On their bodies Koranic verses had
been calligraphed describing the physical punishments
prescribed by the Koran for
women who "misbehave".
The film was
written by the Somali-born Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a
strong opponent of Islam`s treatment of women, and
financed by van Gogh, who spent 18,000 euros (£12,500)
of his own money on making it. Both Hirsi Ali and van
Gogh received death threats by fanatic Muslims following
the film`s release three months ago.
the Christian, Jewish and secular segments
of the Dutch population. This is ironic because these
are exactly the segments of the population that had
learned to live with van Gogh`s rants and were no longer
shocked by the man who so much wanted to upset.
They are shocked
now, not by Van Gogh but by how some of their
new compatriots, the growing group of Muslim
fanatics, reacted to him.
There is a deep
divide between the two cultures, that of the "old"
Dutch and that of the newcomers—a divide to which
"the village idiot" tried to draw attention but the
extent of which even he did not fathom.
Dutchman who does is Afshin Ellian. Now a professor of
law at the university of Leiden, he fled the Iran of the
ayatollahs in 1982 as a sixteen year old. In a
response to the van Gogh murder, Ellian said that what
happening in Holland today
is what he had fled Iran
for and what is happening currently in Iraq.
Jihad. Will I have to flee again soon?"
Ellian, too, has
already received death threats.
him] is a Flemish historian and journalist.