A trenchant piece on the van Gogh murder from The Telegraph, with thanks to all who sent this in:
The assassination of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker whose funeral took place yesterday, is something new in Europe. There are, of course, antecedents. Fifteen years have passed since Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa against Salman Rushdie: the first shot in the culture war between fundamentalist Islam and the West. But there is no precedent for the ritual slaughter of a prominent artist in broad daylight on the streets of Amsterdam.
For the Dutch, this murder is not only sinister: it is symbolic. Van Gogh – distantly related to Holland’s most celebrated artist – was shot on his bicycle, another national emblem. As he writhed on the ground, the murderer cut his throat without mercy and left him with two knives protruding from his body: a method that is apparently common in North Africa, but unheard of here. Just in case there was any doubt about the symbolism of this butchery, a note was found pinned to his chest, containing death threats against three other public figures….
Now, with the manifestation of a violent form of intolerance in their midst, the iron has entered their souls. After decades of welcoming immigration and preaching multiculturalism, they now propose to expel failed asylum-seekers and to assimilate those who settle, rather than permit de facto religious segregation. If neo-conservatives are liberals who have been mugged by reality, the Dutch are fast becoming a nation of neo-conservatives.
While the Arab-European League accused the Dutch immigration minister of giving a “Hitler speech” at a rally in protest at van Gogh’s murder, the Dutch know who the real Hitlers are. Even the most liberal society is illiberal when it is a question of survival. The Dutch see those who dream of Europe under a revived caliphate as a threat to their way of life. The prospect of Islamist imams imposing sharia law on Dutch cities amounts, they feel, to a new Nazi occupation.
Unlike his great, great, great uncle Vincent, Theo van Gogh was not a genius. Was he really an artist at all? But van Gogh’s murder has proved him right about the hardline Islamists. Their ideology is inimical to all that the Dutch hold dear. Last night, as van Gogh’s cremation was seen on television, the tension was palpable. Holland is now the crucible of Europe. Not even the most tolerant people on earth can tolerate the Islamists.