Funny thing: even after I posted about the murder of Theo van Gogh at Dhimmi Watch yesterday, I was still receiving a large number of emails from people telling me I really should post about it. So I added a note at Jihad Watch alerting people to the Dhimmi Watch post. But I still received messages on into this morning telling me I really ought to post about Theo van Gogh. Is it possible that some posts don’t show up on some servers?
Anyway, here is a whole article about Theo van Gogh that I wrote last night with one eye on the election returns and one eye on the keyboard. From FrontPage:
Theo van Gogh was shot dead on an Amsterdam street on Tuesday morning. His assailant was a Dutch Moroccan who was wearing traditional Islamic clothing. After shooting van Gogh several times, he stabbed him repeatedly, slit his throat with a butcher knife, and left a note containing verses from the Qur’an on the body. Said Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende: “Nothing is known about the motive” of the killer.
Others were not quite so cautious. A Dutch student declared: “This has to end, once and for all. You cannot just kill people on the street in a brutal way when you disagree with them.” Job Cohen, the mayor of Amsterdam, declared: “We will show loud and clear that freedom of speech is important to us.”
Freedom of speech: Eight weeks ago, van Gogh’s film Submission aired on Dutch TV. The brainchild of an ex-Muslim member of the Dutch Parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Submission decried the mistreatment of Muslim women “” and even featured images of battered women wearing see-through robes that exposed their breasts, with verses from the Qur’an written on their bodies.
In poor taste? Insulting? Probably that was a bit of the intention. Van Gogh, the great grandson of Vincent van Gogh’s brother (“dear Theo”), was a well-known gadfly on the Dutch scene; in the past, he had attacked Jewish and Christians with enough vehemence to elicit formal complaints. But after Submission, the death threats started to come. Van Gogh, in the eyes of many Dutch Muslims, had blasphemed Islam “” an offense that brought the death penalty. The filmmaker was unconcerned. The film itself, he said, was “the best protection I could have. It’s not something I worry about.”
His death shows that it’s something that everyone who values freedom should worry about. For the murder of van Gogh, if it indeed turns out to have been committed by a Muslim enraged at his “blasphemy,” has precedents. In 1947, the Iranian lawyer Ahmad Kasravi was murdered in court by Islamic radicals; Kasravi was there to defend himself against charges that he had attacked Islam. Four years later, members of the same radical Muslim group, Fadayan-e Islam, assassinated Iranian Prime Minister Haji-Ali Razmara after a group of Muslim clerics issued a fatwa calling for his death. In 1992, the Egyptian writer Faraj Foda was murdered by Muslims enraged at his “apostasy” from Islam “” another offense for which traditional Islamic law prescribes the death penalty. Foda’s countryman, the Nobel Prizewinning novelist Naguib Mahfouz, was stabbed in 1994 after accusations of blasphemy. Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, many non-Muslims have been arrested, tortured, and sentenced to die on the slimmest of evidence. And of course, there is the Ayatollah Khomeini’s notorious death fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
But for such things to happen in Iran and Egypt, two countries where Islamic radicalism is widespread, is one thing; to have a “blasphemer” gunned down on the streets of Amsterdam in broad daylight is another. Europe has for thirty years encouraged massive immigration from Muslim nations; Muslims now comprise five percent of Holland’s population, and that number is growing rapidly. But it is still largely taboo in Europe “” as in America “” to raise any questions about how ready that population is to accept the parameters of secularism. When Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn tried to raise some of those questions in 2002, he was vilified as a racist “” in line with the continuing tendency of the Western media to frame questions regarding Islam in racial terms, despite the fact that the totalitarian intransigence of the ideology of radical Islam is found among all races. And Fortuyn himself, of course, was himself ultimately murdered by a Dutch assailant who, according to The Guardian, “did it for Dutch Muslims.”
The deaths of Fortuyn and now van Gogh indicate that the costs of maintaining this taboo are growing ever higher. One of the prerequisites of the hard-won peaceful coexistence of ideologies in a secular society is freedom of speech “” particularly the freedom to question, to dissent, even to ridicule. Multiculturalism and secularism are on a collision course: if one group is able to demand that its tenets remain above criticism, it no longer coexists with the others as an equal, but has embarked on the path to hegemony.
It is long past due for such considerations to become part of the public debate in Western countries. To what extent are Muslim immigrants in Western countries willing to set aside Islamic strictures on questioning, criticizing, and leaving Islam?
After van Gogh was killed, thousands of people took to the streets of Amsterdam to pay him homage. Among them, according to Agence France Presse, was a Muslim woman who stated: “I didn’t really agree with van Gogh but he was a person who used his freedom of expression.” She held up a sign saying, “Muslims Against Violence,” explaining: “I decided that as a Muslim and a Moroccan I should take up my responsibility to show that we do not support this act.”
But the traditional Muslim view is, unfortunately, alive and well; it was firmly restated several years ago by Pakistan’s Federal Sharia Court: “The penalty for contempt of the Holy Prophet “¦is death and nothing else.” No one knows how many Muslims in Europe and America hold the views of the Moroccan woman at the rally, and how many would side with Pakistan’s Sharia Court “” and the killer of Theo van Gogh.
If Western countries continue, out of ignorance, fear, or narrow self-interest, to refuse to find out, they will find themselves playing host to many more incidents like the bloody scene in Amsterdam Tuesday morning. The longer this question is ignored, or attributed only to “racist” sensibilities, the more likely it becomes that the killing of Theo van Gogh will not be a tragic anomaly, but a harbinger of things to come.
UPDATE: By the way, Ahmad Kasravi was murdered on the orders of a youthful Ayatollah Khomeini. And the above is not intended to be an exhaustive list: there are literally thousands of such attacks, successful and unsuccessful, upon those deemed to have defamed Islam.