November 2, 2004 by

Theo van Gogh


Categories: Artists, Media

Theo van Gogh, a controversial Dutch filmmaker, was murdered on Nov. 2 in Amsterdam. He was 47.
Born in Holland, van Gogh was the great grandson of Theo van Gogh, the famous Paris art dealer and brother of painter Vincent van Gogh. Theo van Gogh was only 24 when he directed the award-winning black and white film “Luger” in 1982. Nearly two dozen movies followed, including “1-900,” which won the special jury prize and the critics’ prize at the 1994 Holland Film Festival, and “Cool!” which earned him a 2004 Golden Calf Award for directing. He also directed the TV miniseries, “Najib and Julia,” a retelling of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” featuring a Dutch girl hockey player and a Moroccan pizza delivery boy.
Van Gogh made headlines last summer for directing a short TV movie critical of some elements of the Islamic faith. When “Submission” aired on Dutch television in August, it caused a furor in the Muslim community in the Netherlands. The English-language film told the fictional story of four Muslim women who are forced into arranged marriages, then raped and beaten by their families. The screenplay was penned by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a member of the Dutch parliament and a former Muslim. She’s currently under police protection.
Van Gogh wrote columns about the Islamic faith which appeared on his Website and in the Dutch newspaper Metro, and published “Allah Knows Better,” a book that claims Muslim clerics hate women. He reportedly received death threats for airing his views, but refused to be silenced by his detractors. His next film, “06-05,” about the 2002 assassination of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, was scheduled to debut on the Internet next month.
Van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death on Tuesday morning while cycling in Oosterpark. The killer left a note on his body, the contents of which were not disclosed. A short time later, authorities engaged in a shootout with a 26-year-old man suspected of the filmmaker’s slaying. Police then arrested the gunman, who suffered a minor injury in the firefight. His identity was not released.
On Tuesday evening, thousands of people gathered in the streets of Amsterdam to pay homage to van Gogh. Mourners banged pots and pans and blew horns and whistles in support of his right to exercise freedom of speech.
Watch “Submission”
[Update – July 26, 2005: Mohammed Bouyeri, a 27-year-old radical Islamist, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Bouyeri said he acted out of religious conviction, and vowed to do the same again if given the chance. The Dutch court ruled the slaying “a terrorist act.”]
[Update – March 26, 2007: Friends and fans of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh unveiled a memorial sculpture on March 18. The sculpture, created by Jeroen Henneman and titled “The Scream,” depicts Van Gogh screaming near the spot where he was murdered in 2004 by an Islamic extremist.]

6 Responses to Theo van Gogh

  1. Richard Von Schlichten

    I am a librarian in the US and a customer who is Dutch needs to have an address to write the family. It need not be a personal address but Mr. Van Gogh’s business address would suffice. Can anyone help with this? Thanks in advance

  2. Islamey

    I just want to say that I do not agree with the death of an artist. I do believe that Hirsi needed a shrink, because she was the one who was sexually abused by her relative and as a way of coping she was angry with God.
    I watched the movie and it is correct and safe to say that it does not depict islam but a muslim woman’s anger towards her religion rather than the people who did this too.
    It is true that in patriarchial societies, abuse of power occurs as does in every society.
    There is more rape, more incest, more sensuality unprecedented in Western nations among jews and christians: religoius and non-religious than in Muslim society.
    However, due to the ultra conservatism, if and so when such a rare thing as incest happens, it is covered up because it is unconceivable for even such a thing to take place in a muslim society where modesty and chastity is the hallmark with dealings with people.
    To use the verses of Qu’raan to think that this is what is used to justify is not only rhetoric but illogical.
    The punishment for adultery is only if adultery is committed in open ground and in front of at least four people who witness the act of penetration and as such no one on earth is shameful enough to do this.
    The honor killings that do occur are a result of tribal thinking that unfortunately even Islam has not gotten rid of because people have clinged to their ways. The tribal thinking is permeated with pride, arrogance, status any of these are more affected when a female does wrong. Although, these are affected when male members do wrong but sadly, in a patriarchial and post-colonial(yes, I do blame colonialism more so than anything on this), the female wrongdoings are considered more shameful than male wrongdoings. HOWEVER, this is not what islaam says.
    The Propeht SAW wife Aisha was accused at one point of adultery(falsely) along with one of his companion(falsely). If you look at history, neither of them were punished, rather their false accusers male and female were punished.
    What we need to change in muslim societies, is the abuse of power by men,not their religion.
    And this entails educating men their religon and women their religion.
    Also, disenfranchised people like Hirsi and other women who have nowhere to vent their anger will say these things. However, I feel that these women if they have truely been harmed should be helped by bringing their accusers to justice.
    To what happened to Von Gogh is a result of other types of ignorant people’s action. People who believe in taking the law into their hands and this is NOT soemthing islaam commands or allows.
    I want to point out that unfortanelty all the wrong ideas about islaam are being propogated, spoken and the actions of people support or enforce those ideas.
    Whereas people like myself, who know who we are and who were blessed enough to be brought up in a normal generic muslim loving family, where your uncle is really your uncle and your dad is your honor, where no one can conceive of the idea of incest, when we talk, unfortunately no one is listening.
    When we say our voices and tell the world, that this is not islaam but rather the ignorance of the human race, be it muslims abusing their women, or muslims killing non-muslim artists just because he did not protray islaam favorably or justly, then
    I think it is about time the world listened to people like myself, who dont have psychological grievances and who don’t come from “broken” homes.

  3. Islamey

    sorry, I didnt realize this was a tribute,
    you may erase my above post, thanks.
    I would be a hypocrite if I say I am tributing this artist, because he damaged my community and propagated lies against islaam. Simply, I dont agree with his views,however, his death, I dont agree with either.

  4. van willem van gogh romeyn

    Only wish that theo could have lived at least long enough to see for himself…i wish i could haved hugged theo as he was dying,..just as my very own greatgrandfather was held by theo his great grandfather as he lay dying…i love you theo…even though we never got the chance to meet,we are family…sincerely…Van Willem Van Gogh Romeyn… contact is through my new website..I do hope for a reply…but I wont be holding my breath…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *