Dutch police have arrested eight suspected Islamic radicals as part of the investigation into the brutal slaying of outspoken filmmaker Theo van Gogh, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The suspects were detained in the 24 hours following Van Gogh’s killing while he bicycled on an Amsterdam street, prosecution spokeswoman Dop Kruimel told The Associated Press.
Six detainees are of Moroccan origin, one is Algerian and the other has dual Spanish-Moroccan nationality, she said.
The suspect in the killing—a 26-year-old suspected Muslim extremist with dual Moroccan-Dutch citizenship—was arrested Tuesday after a shootout with police. The unidentified suspect was wounded in the leg.
Kruimel said the suspects, whose identities were not released, were detained and released during an October 2003 investigation into a potential terrorist threat.
“The suspects were detained at a number of residences searched in connection with the Van Gogh investigation,” Kruimel said. “They were previously known to us. As of now only one suspect is being held for Van Gogh’s murder, but the investigation will determine if others may have been connected.”
Van Gogh, 47, who received death threats after his recent movie sharply criticized how women are treated under Islam, was repeatedly shot and stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street Tuesday.
“Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Have mercy. Have mercy!” the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper quoted Van Gogh as begging his killer.
Another Dutch newspaper, the Telegraaf daily, carried a large color photograph of Van Gogh’s body with a knife protruding from his chest under the headline “Butchered.”
“We’re not going to take this,” the Dagblad said.
The paper said the killer shot Van Gogh eight or nine times, then calmly slipped his weapon in the pocket of a beige raincoat before bending over his victim and slitting his throat.
Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said the suspect “acted out of radical Islamic fundamentalist convictions” and added that he had contacts with a group that was under surveillance by the Dutch secret service.
The suspect allegedly is friends with Samir Azzouz, an 18-year-old Muslim of Moroccan origin awaiting trial on charges of planning a terrorist attack targeting a nuclear reactor and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, NOS Dutch television reported.
Azzouz was among those arrested in October 2003 but released for lack of evidence. He was re-arrested in June.
On Wednesday, well-wishers brought hundreds of flowers to the spot where Van Gogh was slain. Others brought beer, cigarettes and cactus plants—a reference to Van Gogh’s prickly artistic nature and his habit of giving guests on his television talk show a cactus as a gift.
“This is an attack on my country,” said Masite Halici, a young Dutch woman who came with a rose. “I didn’t enjoy his art at all, but we need people who stand up for what they think.”
Van Gogh—an award-winning filmmaker, television producer and newspaper columnist—once mocked a prominent Dutch Jew, referred to Jesus as “the rotten fish” of Nazareth and called a radical Muslim politician “Allah’s pimp.”
The great-grandson of painter Vincent Van Gogh’s brother released the fictional film “Submission” in August about a Muslim woman who was beaten and sexually abused, drawing the ire of some Muslims and generating death threats against him.
In the fictional story, a veiled Muslim woman spoke about her violent marriage, being raped by a relative and later brutally punished for adultery. In some scenes, the actress’ naked body is shown through a transparent gown. One scene shows her body with Quranic verses written on it.
Some Muslims and women’s groups said the movie’s depiction of the abuse of women was insensitive.
In a recent radio interview, Van Gogh, a chain-smoking social critic and satirist, dismissed the threats and called the movie “the best protection I could have. It’s not something I worry about.”
Police kept watch on Van Gogh’s house immediately after the film’s airing but dropped that precaution because there was no concrete evidence of a threat.
The English-language film was written by Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a lawmaker who has outraged Muslims by criticizing Islamic customs and the failure of Muslim families to adopt Dutch ways.
Her spokeswoman, Ingrid Pouw, said Hirsi Ali was “deeply shocked” by the slaying.
About 20,000 people poured into Amsterdam’s central square to protest the attack. Many blew horns and whistles and banged pots and pans.
The government held late-night crisis meetings and the Immigration Minister met with Muslim groups to discuss how to avoid violent confrontations with the Muslim community.
Dutch Muslim groups condemned the killing and called for reconciliation, expressing fears of possible reprisals against Muslims. Several Muslim groups planned rallies in the Dutch capital to protest the attack.
Van Gogh’s killing came at a time of increased tensions in the Netherlands, where many blame violent crime on the Muslim minority, mainly made up of immigrants.
The killing instantly recalled the assassination of anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn, who was killed in 2002 by an animal-rights activist.
In the aftermath of Fortuyn’s assassination, 10 percent of the Dutch electorate voted for his anti-immigration party, and during the last two years the Netherlands has taken the toughest measures in the European Union to clamp down on immigration.
Srdja Trifkovic, Chronicles News and Views, Nov. 3
Theo van Gogh (47), a Dutch filmmaker who had made a movie critical of some aspects of Islamic society and culture, has been shot dead in an Amsterdam street on November 2. The late great-grand-nephew of famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh had received many death threats after releasing Submission last August, a short film detailing the treatment of Muslim women. He shrug off the threats, saying there was nothing offensive in his movie. The killer, a 26-year-old Moroccan residing in Holland, was wearing a long beard and Islamic garb when he shot and stabbed van Gogh in broad daylight. He was arrested after a shootout with the police.
Van Gogh’s murder brings to mind the killing of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn who advocated curbs on Islamic immigration. He was gunned down in 2002, only days before an election in which he was expected to do well. Both men supported Holland’s permissive social climate—Fortuyn was a homosexual who supported “women’s rights” euthanasia, and legalization of drugs—and both came to see Islam and rampant Muslim immigration as the greatest threat to the kind of liberal, secular society in which they felt comfortable.
The threats on van Gogh’s life started ten weeks ago, after the premiere of his film. It was scripted by a Somali-born woman, Hirsi Ali (34), who grew up as a Muslim but has denounced the cult. She is now a Dutch national assembly deputy, and vociferous in her criticism of Islamic obscurantism and violence. She says the goal of the film was to draw attention to rampant but concealed violence against Muslim women, including those living in Europe, who are routinely subjected to rape, incest, forced marriages, and the suicides. “Muslims deny it,” she says, “and many Dutch are afraid of taking it on, of causing religious tension, of being called racists.”
Van Gogh insisted that he could not see why so many Muslims expressed outrage with his movie. It opens with a Muslim prayer; the narrator then tells stories of four women who ask for Allah’s help to lighten their suffering. One was forced to marry a man she hates, one was raped and made pregnant by her uncle, one was whipped after she had sex with her boyfriend, and one is repeatedly beaten by her husband. The women feel abandoned by Allah despite their devotion to him. As a close-up shot of a battered and bruised face appears, the narrator says:
“Oh, Allah, most high. You say that men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because you have given one more strength than the other. Yet I feel at least once a week the strength of my husband’s fist on my face.”
In addition to his film, van Gogh also wrote columns about Islam that were published on his website and in the Dutch newspaper Metro.
All that appears to have sufficed for a fatwa, a death sentence, and an execution-style murder, in broad daylight, deep inside the Western world. There but for the grace of God go I. Lord have mercy.
In a display of suicidal idiocy be expected from a supine European Social Democrat, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende hastened to declare that “nothing is known about the motive” of the assassin, and called on the nation “not to jump to far-reaching conclusions.” (Only hours later the police in The Hague arrested two-dozen Dutch youths, who seem to have jumped to their own conclusions, for “inciting hatred” and shouting “discriminatory and racist” chants.) The Prime Minister also referred to van Gogh’s “outspoken opinions”—with at least a hint of the possibility that he had it coming—and boldly declared that it would be “unacceptable if a difference of opinion led to this brutal murder.”
Mijnheer Balkenende seems to be implying that “this brutal murder” will be deemed less “unacceptable” if it turns out to have been caused not by “a difference of opinion” but by some more profound reason—by the sense of pain and grievance in the Muslim community, perhaps, caused by the late filmmaker’s insensitive and inappropriate words and actions. His reference to Van Gogh’s “outspoken opinions” is already echoed in a hundred obituaries describing the victim as “controversial.” This brings to mind a Dutch journalist’s New York Times obituary of Pim Fortuyn, which called his views “a curious mixture of right, center and left.” In today’s Holland, no less than in America, it is obvious that notions described as “outspoken,” “controversial,” and “curious” denote thoughts, as opposed to programmed responses.
As for the Muslims? they are merely doing their thing, in the footsteps of their prophet. There were no turbulent filmmakers in Muhammad’s time, but there were poets, and some of them gave him as much grief as van Gogh apparently did to the young Moroccan. After the battle of Badr, as Muhammad scrutinized his prisoners, his eye fell fiercely on one al-Nadr whom he had never forgiven for captivating the audiences in Mecca with more entertaining tales. He was beheaded on the spot. In Medina Muhammad ordered the murder of Asma bint Marwan, a poetess who made fun of him in verse. Anticipating Henry II’s outburst, Muhammad exclaimed, “Will no one rid me of this daughter of Marwan?” One of his followers duly did, that same night, stabbing her as she nursed her youngest child. One Abu Afak, supposedly over a hundred years old, criticized Muhammad in verse. The latter simply commented, “Who will deal with this rascal for me?” Abu Afak did not see the morning. The hatred of artistically inspired detractors was obsessive with Muhammad, and reflected in the Kuranic verdict that poets are inspired by Satan and have gone astray, possessed and no better than soothsayers.
That was the man who is explicitly upheld by all Muslims everywhere—from Mecca to Milan, from Amsterdam to Agadir—as the paragon of godly, morally impeccable behavior, to be admired and emulated until the end of time. His followers in the Western world are ready and willing to kill the native-born infidels who dare say things that are not to their liking. They feel justified by the divine sanction offered by their prophet. And kill they most assuredly will.
Short of a belated, massive, and unexpected recovery of its spiritual and moral strength—impossible under Prime Minister Balkenende and his ilk—Europe faces submission to Muhammad and eventual acceptance of sacred Arab places as its own. It can be saved, maybe, if it rises against its rulers, against the Balkenendes, Blairs, and a thousand clones who facilitate the advance of Islam by destroying every trace of the sense of community of European nations based on kinship, faith, and culture. If it does, if the youths arrested in The Hague provide an example and a lead for a million others, Theo van Gogh will not have died in vain.