De Maat is Vol

Posted by sepoy on November 04, 2004 · 4 mins read

Pim Fortuyn was shot in 2002. The relief at the time was that the murder, shocking to the staid, liberal Dutch, was not committed by a religious zealot - specifically, a Muslim religious zealot.

That fear became a reality this week. I was shocked to read thatTheo Van Gogh, an accomplished filmmaker was shot, stabbed and killed on Nov. 2nd. His killer, arrested after a gun battle with the police, is a Moroccon Dutch with ties to fundamentalist groups. After he stabbed Van Gogh, he left a letter on the dead body calling for Jihad.

Why? Because Theo Van Gogh directed a 11 minute long documentary called Submission. The docu was written and narrated by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch Member of the Parliament who has publicly repudiated Islam as an evil, women oppressing religion. She has been under the watch of bodyguards since the viewing. Of course, she feels terribly guilty.

But what was oh-so-bad about a documentary that a Muslim had to slit the infidel director's throat? It shows women wearing see-through veils with verses of the Qur'an written across their breasts and backs. And features interviews with four women who had been beaten and abused by their Muslim husbands. Once it was shown on Dutch tv, all involved started getting death threats. Theo Van Gogh made matters worse by being on the record for calling Islam a religion for "goat fuckers" and Muslims as a fifth column. The documentary (from its descriptions) is a visceral denounciation but it does not seem to have engendered much discussion. Leaving the space open for zealots to step in.

In the aftermath of this hate crime, the sane people want to quash hate. The insane want to have a crusade because that surely is working for the other guys. Theo Van Gogh's killing can be seen in two ways: as an act of violence akin to the murder of "abortion doctors" in America or as a symptomatic act of immigrant Jihad on secular Europe. I can tell you which way Michiel Smit wants you to see it. I urge you to see it the other way.

The spin is that Europe is facing a struggle between the secular establishment and an intractable religious community. The metaphor used by Smit, and others, is of a seige; Europe is beseiged by immigrant Muslims who are not assimilating and adapting [Charles Martel and Charlemagne being the obvious resurrected heroes]. The opposite case can also be made. The immigrant Muslims used to a majority world of faith view themselves as under seige from the liberal, secular Europeans but are forced to remain there for economic or political reasons. Linguistically, culturally and religiously shunted, they harken to even stricter dreamscapes of religious power and potency [Osama]. A perceived full-frontal attack on their faith causes the lunatic fringe to react violently.

How will Europe solve this? I would tell you but we are kinda busy here in the United States with our own problems with Enlightenment. Let me just hint that there are multiple modes of identity at play among Muslims in Europe. The work of Tariq Ramadan is one example. The popularity of Shabana Rehman is another example.

At the very least, let's say a prayer to whichever God you prefer for Theo Van Gogh. And fight against religious zealots of all colors, everywhere.

ps: The graphic above is NOT from Submission. It is the brilliant work of Shirin Neshat. The descriptions of the movie reminded me of Neshat's work.


maujkar | August 19, 2005

Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Blog