I feel for this brave, heroic woman. I don’t approve of some of van Gogh’s language as quoted here, but he embodies the soul of the West: if one is not free to express his convictions, one is not free. A darkness continues to descend upon Europe, and is also evident in the silly portions of this article on which I comment below. From The Guardian, with thanks to Filtrat.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has called the prophet Muhammad a “lecherous tyrant”, Islam a “backward religion”, and the Koran “in part a licence for oppression”. Theo van Gogh dubbed Muslims “goat-fuckers”, a radical Islamic leader “Allah’s pimp”, and Islam a “retrograde and aggressive” faith.
Van Gogh, the 47-year-old great-grandson of Vincent’s brother and a talented if wildly provocative film-maker, columnist and TV interviewer, died on a street in eastern Amsterdam on Tuesday morning, slain by a suspect whom police yesterday described as an Islamic fundamentalist with terrorist ties.
“I feel terribly guilty,” a shocked Hirsi Ali told Dutch media yesterday, adding that she was “very much afraid” that Submission, an 11-minute film about Islamic violence against women that she wrote and the film-maker produced, was the direct cause of his death. Unlike van Gogh, Hirsi Ali lives under 24-hour police protection.
The elegant 34-year-old MP for the free-market VVD party, a Somalian refugee who 12 years ago fled an arranged marriage and now calls herself an “ex-Muslim”, has every reason to be distressed: the manner of Van Gogh’s death was brutal – and, it emerged yesterday, depressingly familiar….
The assassination has sparked a heartfelt national outcry in the traditionally tolerant Netherlands, sparking fears of a dangerous rise in racial tension in a country whose population of 16 million includes some one million Muslims, mainly of Turkish or North African origin. Fanning fears further, a recent government estimated that by 2010, several large Dutch cities like Rotterdam, Amsterdam, the Hague and Utrecht would have Muslim majorities.
Recent opinion polls show the Dutch to be increasingly hostile towards immigrants and fearful of Muslim extremism. Islam, immigration and integration have shot to the top of the political agenda since the rise of Pim Fortuyn, the populist anti-immigrant politician who was himself shot dead by an animal-rights activist in May 2002, and whose party finished second in general elections just days later. The centre-right Dutch government has only succeeded in fanning the flames by calling for greater integration of immigrants through language tests and citizenship classes, and recently fuelled even more controversy with plans to repatriate up to 26,000 failed asylum seekers.
There goes the media again, turning the victim into the perpetrator and the perpetrator into the victim. The wicked Dutch fanned the flames. Is it any wonder that one of the poor immigrants snapped?
In the midst of this tinderbox, insisting on their right to speak freely and with the support of many Dutch people, Hirsi Ali and Van Gogh scattered their sparks – a blistering critique of Islam – with magnificent disregard for the feelings they might be offending.
Ah. Magnificent disregard for offended feelings. Old Theo had it coming, eh?
The slender, couture-clad Hirsi Ali has had several fatwas issued against her and spends her life in the company of a brace of six-foot bodyguards; Van Gogh also received death threats but refused protection, saying the bullets would surely never come for him. “No one can seriously want to shoot the village idiot,” he said recently….
Damning Islam as a “backward, 12th- century religion”, a “medieval, misogynist cult incapable of self-criticism and blind to modern science”, Hirsi Ali says orthodox Muslim men routinely indulge in domestic violence against women, as well as incest and child abuse. To make matters worse, she argues, their behaviour is invariably hushed up.
“The Netherlands is a country that worships consensus and peace, but here you have newcomers who are not integrated into this system,” she said last year. “They exploit an open, liberal society to reach illiberal ends. Everyone knows the position of women in Islamic countries is horrendous, but the Dutch like to think it doesn’t happen here. They don’t want to believe Muslim women in the Netherlands are beaten and locked up in their homes, or that girls are murdered for holding hands with a non-Muslim boy.”
The solution, Hirsi Ali argues, is for fundamentalist Islamic books to be banned, Mullahs to be banished and for western societies “not to bend over backwards to accommodate a culture that advocates the degradation of women … but to ensure that the Muslim men who perpetrate such barbarity are brought to justice”.
The “lapsed Muslim” last year found an effective and articulate artistic partner in Van Gogh who, as well as having made a dozen feature films in his 25-year career, was also a much-loved, deliberately provocative and often obscene columnist and pamphleteer who published numerous indictments of an over-radical Islam in an over-tolerant Netherlands. Fired over the years by almost every Dutch newspaper and magazine for offending its readers, he wrote most recently for the daily freesheet Metro and ran his own highly popular website, De Gezonde Roker (The Healthy Smoker).
But in the no-longer-tolerant-Netherlands, he paid the price. Fraught Dutch commentators had no hesitation yesterday in saying that Holland had become a “front-line state” in a brutal collision between two cultures. “In France or Belgium, you don’t have this same kind of very Dutch cabaret-like figure who rages about goat-fuckers,” one commentator, Rene Cuperus, told De Volkskrant.
“They must know that they’ve landed up in the most liberal country in the world, the land of abortions and gays and all that – but Muslims don’t see it. There’s just no way to bridge that gulf in a politically correct way.” Sociologist, Herman Vuisje, described Van Gogh’s murder as “not a turning point, but the after-effect of a historical failure”.
That failure is called “multiculturalism.”
And an academic, Norbert Both, posed the question that, one imagines, is now troubling Ayaan Hirsi Ali – as well as a great many less outspoken Dutch people.
“The great dilemma, in confronting intolerance, is that you cannot reply with tolerance,” he said. “If you do … you lose your own identity. Can we, despite the emotion, remain ourselves? That’s the question.”