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Van Gogh followup

When I posted the reports on Theo van Gogh's murder, I struggled with the question whether I was qualified to write about him. After all, I hated his columns, never watched one of his movies, and didn't know too much about him. Eventually, I decided that that hadn't stopped me before, and that for my international readers it would be useful - and part of this blog's mission - to inform them of a significant event taking place in the Netherlands.

One thing that turned out to be wrong was my statement that "his commitment to freedom of expression was absolute, and while he made many bitter enemies in 20 years of polemical writing, he always made a point of assuring that his enemies could at all time have their say. He made no distinction between attempts to silence his opponents and attempts to silence himself."

Francisco van Jole mentions in a reflection on van Gogh, Rushdie and Islamic extremism that van Gogh called him a nazi, tried to ban his 'paper' (which paper?) and tried to have him fired for daring to criticize him.
For that reason, van Jole did not see van Gogh as a defender of freedom of speech. (Dutch quotation below the fold)
Van Jole still marched for van Gogh on the evening of his murder, and thinks it's important to honor his memory in the same way that Rushdie was kept in the public eye while he was in hiding. He is right about that. Van Gogh was murdered for his opinions, and that can not be forgotten.

Maar ook omdat hij me openlijk heeft uitgemaakt voor nazi, geprobeerd heeft mijn krantje te verbieden en mij te laten ontslaan omdat ik ooit waagde kritiek op hem te hebben. Ik was dan ook zelfs niet geneigd hem te zien als een verdediger van het vrije woord.

Van Jole has an interesting memory of the period of Rushdie's fatwa:


In Nederland organiseerden fundamentalistische moslims [...] een demonstratie in Rotterdam waar circa duizend man op afkwamen. De demonstratie voerde naar boekhandel Donner.
Die provocatie kon niet onbeantwoord blijven [...] en daarom organiseerde ik met wat - linkse - vrienden in allerijl een tegendemonstratie. [...] (Rechts Nederland was in weerwil van wat er de laatste jaren beweerd wordt indertijd overigens nergens te bekennen).

"Fundamentalist Muslems [...] organised a demonstration in Rotterdam attracting about a thousand people. The march led to Donner's bookshop. This provocation could not be left unanswered and so I organised a counter-demo with some left-wing friends [...] (Contrary to what has been asserted in the past few years, the Dutch Right was no where to be seen in those days, incidentally)

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 5, 2004 10:14 AM.

The previous post in this blog was "Sorry everybody".

The next post in this blog is So you want to emigrate? (Part one of two).

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