BUTCHERING THE IDIOT(28/04/2007)
Aquest article no està traduït al català; es mostra la seva versió en anglès
A review of a book about the people involved, to a greater or lesser degree, in the murder of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh in 2004.
CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: REVIEW
A review of: 'MURDER IN AMSTERDAM - The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance', by Ian Buruma. Atlantic Books, London, 2006. 262 pages.
On November 2nd, 2004, Theo van Gogh – a Dutch film-maker and writer - was cycling home in Amsterdam. When passing through a particularly dreary stretch of street (I was shown the spot last year), he was shot in the stomach by Mohammed Bouyeri, a twenty-six year old Dutchman of Moroccan extraction. Van Gogh crawled over to the opposite pavement, followed by Bouyeri, who, ignoring Van Gogh's shouts of 'Don't do it!', shot him several more times. Bouyeri took out a machete and slashed the film-maker's throat, then scribbled something on a piece of paper which he laid on Van Gogh's chest, stabbing it into place with another, smaller, knife.
He was reloading his pistol when the police turned up. As he stated later in court, his intentions had been to die as a martyr to his 'faith' in a shoot-out. But he got shot in the leg instead, and was taken into custody.
Ian Buruma, a Dutch-born journalist now working in the US, has produced a neatly researched book that puts paid to the media-sponsored clichés - of the 'clash-of-cultures' sort - that have hounded this particularly brutal murder. He points out that Theo van Gogh – although notorious for his deliberately tasteless attacks against Islam and other religions – enjoyed working with immigrants as a director and did a bunch of drama series about the problems facing them in Europe. He even got two Moroccan-Dutch delinquents out of reform school and helped them become the successful actors they still are today.
It was perhaps inevitable, then, that he would end up working with Holland's most high-profile immigrant, the Muslim apostate Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who has become famous worldwide as a critic of what she sees as the appalling misogyny built into conventional Islam. Van Gogh and Hirsi Ali ended up making a ten minute short ('Submission') in which texts from the Koran advocating violence against women are superimposed on several battered wives in see-through burqas. Designed to provoke debate in the Dutch Muslim community, 'Submission' became the start of Hirsi Ali's life under armed guard: the note pinned to Van Gogh's chest stated that the director had been killed for directing the film and that Hirsi Ali was next on the list.
As for Bouyeri, far from being a budding religious fanatic, he had been successful and popular at school, and had restricted his religious practices to fasting at Ramadan and little else. However, as he grew older, something changed: an apparent inability to cope with the hedonism of Dutch life, exacerbated by increasing confusion about the sexual rejection he was getting from some women – which he interpreted as racism – led him to shun the folksy Islam of his village-born father and surf the numerous websites of extreme Jihadist theorists, whose ideas are based mainly on those of Ussama bin Laden's intellectual mentor Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), a viciously misogynist anti-semite who advocated that not only infidels but also non-observant Muslims may be legitimately assassinated. Very soon, Bouyeri was spending his leisure time watching real-life videos of western hostages being tortured and beheaded. The 'faith' he later told the court he was defending, had become little more than a whacko Death Cult.
When 'Submission' was made, Hirsi Ali begged Van Gogh to take his name off the credits, for safety's sake (as had been done with the crew and actresses). He refused, saying that he was just a 'village idiot', a harmless joker, and that no one in his right mind would want to do him in.
Well, Mohammed Bouyeri didn't get the joke and was so far out of his right mind on November 2nd, 2004, that it remains highly unlikely he will ever get any kind of joke, ever again, throughout the term of his long prison life.