Another Theo Van Gogh
was a Dutch actor
, film director
, newspaper columnist and great, great grandson of Vincent Van Gogh
, born in 1957. His last film, Submission
, loosly based on the story of the violence and sexual assult that Somali refugee Ayaan Hirsi Ali
suffered through an arranged marriage
, lead to Theo receiving protests, death threats, and ultimately on 1 November, 2004
, his assassination.
Theo's first film was Luger, a black and white arthouse effort which he wrote and directed in 1981. Later films that stand out include Blind Date, winner of the Dutch Golden Calf award in 1996, 06, winner of the Special Prize at the 1994 Holland Film Festival, and Loos, that was selected at the 13th São Paulo International Film Festival in 1989. Along with other European directors he contributed a short sardonic piece called Euroquiz for the unintentionally depressing European Union public relations film Visions of Europe in 2004.
Ironically earlier he had just finished filming a documentary profiling anti-immigrant politician Pim Fortuyn when the subject himself was shot dead in 2002. He had also produced a low-budget modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, about a romance between a poor Moroccan man and an upper class Dutch girl, in Najib and Juliet.
Theo was more Jerry Springer than Mike Moore. His anarchistic belief in free speech did not deter him from ignoring controversial topics, or for that matter, taking his own personal safety seriously after death threats came through after Submission was screened on Dutch television. The documentary, which included a scene where Ayaan's skin appears through skimpy clothing to have whip marks and printed Koranic writing, triggered an outcry from the Netherland's one million strong Muslims. Ayaan herself is a member of the Dutch parliament who has renounced Islam, the religion of her birth and has criticised Dutch Muslims for not integrating in Dutch society.
Eyewitness reports suggest that Theo was cycling in Amsterdam when a 26 year old Dutch-Morrocan man, Mohammed Bouyeri, assulted him. His neck was slit from thespinal column, then he was stabbed with a five page note attached to the knife. An exchange of gunfire was then heard at a nearby park, involving Bouyeri and a police officer and the assassin, injured by gunfire, was overpowered and arrested. Subsequent investigations would link Bouyeri to terrorist Samir Azzouz through a cell operating at a local extremist mosque.
The country in fear and enraged, over the next week twenty mosques and other religious buildings were arsoned.
The mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen (himself previously a target from both Islamic extremists and Theo) backed a call for a public demonstration on the city's main street on the night of Theo's death. But he rejected the traditional idea of people holding a minute's silence, as it would not be in keeping with Theo's style.