Tuesday, November 02, 2004

You can stop doubting now - Jihad is here

Theo van Gogh is dead. Murdered by a Muslim.
Theo van Gogh (indeed a distant relative of the famous Dutch painter) was a movie director and producer, and a columnist of renown in the Netherlands.
He was a controversial man. Prone to provoke debate, pushing free speech to the limits of a great many people.

Van Gogh abhorred religions, and religious people, but he was not partizan. And the more backwards he felt a religion to be, the more it suffered his withering ridicule. Clearly, Islam had an enemy in van Gogh.

On Tuesday morning van Gogh was riding his bicycle when a man also riding a bike, dressed in traditional Muslim garb passed him on the street. The man opened fire with a sidearm, and van Gogh fled on foot. The killer pursued him, firing, and van Gogh went down. The man then drew a knife and cut the throat of the already wounded van Gogh. When the murderer finished his job, he took out a smaller knife, stuck it through a piece of paper and plunged it into his victim's chest.

The murdered was arrested shortly after, but not before a gunfight ensued in which a policeman was hit (who fortunately wore a bullet-proof vest).

Van Gogh was hated by Dutch Muslims for several reasons. He routinely attacked Islam for all its backwards habits, but most of all for its oppression of women. He recently released a
short movie called "Submission", a movie he produced in cooperation with Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi-Ali, a Somali refugee who left Islam and is now one of Holland's strongest voices against the rise of Islam in the Netherlands.
The movie shows Muslim women dressed in see-through gowns, with evidence of beatings and other forms of abuse clearly visible. There are voice-overs of Muslim women testifying about their suffering, brought on by their status under Islam.

Death threats already existed against Hirsi-Ali, and they have been intensified. She's been in hiding for years now, and is always under police protection.

Van Gogh refused all such protection. He simply refused to believe anything would happen to him. It was perhaps the only naivete he suffered from.

Holland is now abuzz. It turns out that several columnists, researchers and politicians have withdrawn from public life because they either felt or were in fact threatened. Threats by Muslims are to be taken seriously, no one doubts that.

So it seems that one way or another, Muslims are deciding for the Dutch what is still acceptable as 'free speech' and what is not.

Most Muslims interviewed strongly opposed this murder, some were truly horrified. But many also showed understanding, and simply failed to see the basic flaw of equating harsh and offensive criticism of your belief on the one hand with murdering the offender on the other.

This goes to the core of the conflict between Islam and the West. Moroccans (and most other Muslims) in the Netherlands really don't see what's wrong with killing a person who take such offense to a level that is intolerable to them. They may not do it themselves, but they fully understand the man that does. Whereas we can't understand how indignation, no matter how intense, may lead to murder, THEY cannot understand how van Gogh should expect anything else in the end. For most Muslims, this was simply a matter of time.

Like it is for Hirsi-Ali.

Like it is for Rushdie.

Like it is for all the people who simply utter words against Islam and its backwards practices, words that - unlike sticks and stones - hurt no one.

So now it turns out that many people in public functions have long been censoring themselves. Rationalizing it by saying "There are limits to free speech, one cannot simply offend and insult at will". This point may be correct, it is also irrelevant. If a person crosses the line by insulting an ethnic group (like van Gogh did to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike), the offended party goes to court. You file a complaint, and you sue.
Muslims feel totally justified in taking their own measures. And to them there's no disproportion between offensive language and shooting a person repeatedly, cutting his throat and then sticking a note to his corpse with a knife.

Theo van Gogh was 47 years old. He was married with children. He was a talented filmmaker, producer and writer. He never hurt a person in his life. But his opinion was offensive to Muslims. And that gets you killed in the Netherlands these days.


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