Theo van Gogh
Date: 1957 - 2004
Subject: Sexual/Gender Orientation, Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Medium: Film Video
Artist: Theo van Gogh- Dutch film director, television producer, publicist and actor. He was also a descendant of the brother of the famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh
Confronting Bodies: Moroccan Islamists; Dutch Hofstad Network; Mohammed Bouyeri
Dates of Action: November 2, 2004
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Description of Artwork: Working from a script written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, van Gogh created the 10-minute movie Submission. The movie deals with the topic of violence against women in Islamic societies; telling the stories of four abused Muslim women. The title itself, Submission, is the translation of the word "Islam" in English. In the film, the women's naked bodies are veiled with semi-transparent shrouds as they kneel in prayer, telling their stories as if they are speaking to Allah. Qur'anic verses unfavorable to women are painted on their bodies in Arabic.
The Incident: After the movie was released in 2004, both van Gogh and Hirsi Ali received death threats. Van Gogh did not take these very seriously and refused any protection - reportedly telling Hirsi Ali: "Who would want to kill the town idiot?" Sadly, on November 2, 2004 the Dutch film maker was assassinated in Amsterdam by a Moroccan Islamist because of his film Submission, which portrays the submissiveness of Muslim women. The murderer, Mohammed Bouyeri, a 26-year-old Dutch citizen and the son of a Muslim Moroccan immigrant, shot van Gogh eight times and then proceed to slit his throat and stab him in the chest - van Gogh is pictured above lying on the street after being murder. Bouyeri also left a letter with a list of additional individuals to be killed, including Theo’s scriptwriter Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch MP who later fled to the U.S. Bouyeri's letter ends with the following lines: ‘I am certain, O America, that you will die/I am certain, O Europe, that you will die/I am certain, O Netherlands, that you will die/I am certain, O Hirsi Ali, that you will die/I am certain, O infidel fundamentalist, that you will die.’
Results of Incident: The killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, was apprehended by the police after being shot in the leg. Although born in Amsterdam, well-educated and apparently well-integrated, Bouyeri has alleged terrorist ties with the Dutch Hofstad Network. He was also charged with attempted murder of a police officer and bystander, illegal possession of a firearm, and conspiring to assassinate others, including Hirsi Ali. He was convicted on July 26, 2005 and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. The murder led to a wider and more polarized debate about the position of the more than one million Muslims in the Netherlands and how they would be affected. There are non-Muslim Dutch citizens that fear that Holland will lose its traditional tolerance and Western liberalism, becoming increasingly influenced by Islamic viewpoints on these issues. These fears are fueled by population growth studies and projections that show the Muslim community growing much faster than that of the "autochtonen" (autochthonous Dutch). On the other hand, many Islamic Dutch residents feel discriminated against and singled out. The increasing polarization has led to calls from many religious leaders and politicians for calm and improved communication between the communities. In an apparent reaction against controversial statements about the Islamic, Christian and Jewish religions, such as those Theo van Gogh was renowned for, the Dutch Minister of Justice, Christian Democrat Piet Hein Donner suggested the existing Dutch blasphemy laws should either be applied more stringently or made stricter. This had led to a counter call by the liberal D66 party to scrap the blasphemy law altogether.
Source: wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theo_van_Gogh_(film_director) And, Democracy Frontline at: http://democracyfrontline.org/blog/?p=1597