Jewish World Review August 1, 2005/ 25 Tammuz,
Between the Sex Pistols and the Koran
Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, the attacker who shot him, stabbed him,
slit his throat and spiked a five-page manifesto to his chest with a dagger,
was sentenced last week to life in a Dutch prison. The son of Moroccan
immigrants showed no remorse: "I was motivated by the law that commands me
to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet."
Like the London terrorists, he was homegrown and educated in the
country where his parents sought a better life. The murder highlights how
one of the most "tolerant" countries in Europe, proud of its multicultural
diversity, has not only not brought about an appreciation for assimilation
but has instead fostered the differences that encourage hatred. The
Europeans, like the English after the bus and subway bombs of July 7, have
begun to fear the Muslims in their midst, opening debate from left and right
over their permissive immigration laws.
Germans from both ends of the political spectrum, for example,
ask whether "Jihad behind the dikes" could spread across the continent. Der
Spiegel, the weekly newsmagazine, says the episode "has unleashed a debate
on immigrants and cultural values that will continue to simmer in Holland
and Europe for years to come." An editorial in the newspaper Die Welt warns
that the Dutch must face the reality that their "liberal and tolerant
society has often been too passive in defending its own values so much
so, in fact, that it has allowed a parallel society to be built."
Pressure is at last exerted on moderate Muslims to speak out
forcefully against terrorism, to re-examine what it is in their religion,
however misguided it may be, that encourages violence. Theo van Gogh's
offense, for example, was making a movie called "Submission," a 10-minute
film about the suppression of Muslim women. In it he portrayed an abused
woman in a transparent chador, her naked body covered with excerpts from the
Koran prescribing punishments for women who don't obey strict Muslim law.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch member of parliament who was born in
Somalia, wrote the script for "Submission." A fatwa has been issued against
her, and she must have bodyguards with her 24 hours a day. Undeterred, she
vows to make more movies about the plight of Muslim women. She knows of what
she writes, having suffered genital mutilation as a child at the hands of a
grandmother following the dictates of her religion. "The intolerable cannot
be tolerated," she says.
The murderer of Theo van Gogh targeted Ayaan Hirsi Ali with a
death threat in the manifesto spiked to the filmmaker's body, but she
doesn't consider the fatwa as directed only at her, "but against Holland,
against the entire Western world. We are all targets. In the eyes of radical
Muslims, any country in which Muslims can be criticized openly is an enemy
She tells how the Moroccan neighborhoods of Amsterdam, where Van
Gogh's murderer lived, is a closed community. Immigrant parents can't speak,
read or write Dutch and know nothing of the larger community around them.
They listen only to Arabic television spewing hatred against the West. In
their schools, their children are taught that holy war against unbelievers
is a noble way of life.
For devout Muslims, diversity is exhausting, and the male
rituals that religious fanatics find in murder and mayhem present a
dangerous and appealing alternative to forging identity with their new
countries. "What is needed is not so much a dialogue between religions as
between Muslims," Senocak wrote in an essay in Die Welt. "But where will
this happen? And who will lead it?"
These are the urgent questions we're all asking, questions easier to ask than to answer, but questions demanding answers soon.
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