Netherlands marks five years since Theo van Gogh’s murder

This week marks five years since the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh was killed on an Amsterdam streetcorner in 2004 by Mohammad B., a Muslim of Dutch Moroccan origin, in retaliation for his film Submission.

The city organized a tour for journalists of the Slotervaart neighborhood in which Mohammad B. grew up. During the tour, the borough chairman, Moroccan-Dutch youth workers, mosque representatives, and integration experts presented material “aimed at connecting different ethnic groups in the city” to prevent over-simplified stories from making international headlines, NRC Handelsblad reports.

Media outlets marked the occasion with a series of commentaries and interviews. Radio Netherlands Worldwide noted the anniversary with an evaluation of the “debate on the influence of Islam on Dutch society” which the incident generated, noting that “it is a debate between indigenous Dutch in which Muslims hardly participate. The fierce criticism of Islam does not tempt them to respond.”

RNW also published a commentary likening van Gogh to populist right wing politician Geert Wilders. Het Parool published an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, with whom van Gogh made Submission. Ali commented that, “after the murder it became clear that there was a very nasty confrontation between Islam and the ethnic [white] population.”

IslamOnline.net covered Holland’s attempts to “grapple with immigration” on the occasion, highlighting developments since van Gogh’s murder including Amsterdam’s “emergency plan” to fight extremism through immigrant subsidies and dialogue building with mosques, the “hardening” of debate through right wing political figures such as Wilders, and the election of Rotterdam’s Muslim mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb.