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Jihad in the Netherlands

Christopher Hitchens


The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 25, Number 2.


In 2003, at a conference held in Sweden, I was introduced to a member of the Netherlands parliament. She was a woman of hypnotizing beauty named Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who had become a star of the Dutch Liberal Party. Originally from Somalia, she had fled her country of origin in order to escape from genital mutilation and the real possibility that her family might sell her to a strange man twice her age. Becoming fluent in English and Dutch and radiating charisma, she had soon attracted attention by criticizing the refusal of the Muslim establishment in her adopted country to adapt itself to secular democracy. (Who knows how many brilliant women like herself are entombed for life within the confines of enslaving and stultifying theocracies?)

Today, she is living under police protection. In early November 2004, her friend and colleague Theo van Gogh was stabbed to death and then mutilated on a public street, evidently by a Muslim fanatic. Mr. Van Gogh, a descendant of the celebrated painter, was a filmmaker who had made a documentary about the maltreatment by Muslim authorities of Muslim women in Holland. The film had featured Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and a letter “addressed” to her was pinned, by a heavy knife, to the chest of the ritually slaughtered Van Gogh. The man arrested for the crime, identified as Mohammed Bouyeri, was further found to be carrying a “farewell note.” (Apparently, he had hoped to die the death of a “martyr” at the scene of the crime, but the humane Dutch police only wounded him in the leg before subduing him.)

Both the open letter and the note are of extreme interest. The note speaks of Tawheed, which is the current Islamic extremist abuse of the Qur’anic word for “unity” or oneness against all heretics from Shi’a to Christian. This Salafist/bin Ladenist tendency also employs the term takfir, an approximate synonym for excommunication (and therefore slaughter) of infidels and heretics. The faction grouped behind this Qur’anic concept is the most noxious and cynical of the lot: its members allow themselves to consume pork and alcohol and consort with prostitutes if they are on a mission to deceive and destroy the infidel. (This explains the apparent “paradox” of the 9/11 hijackers who were seen cavorting in a nightclub in Florida shortly before mounting their assault on our civil society. It also means that the most outwardly “secular” Muslim might be just the one to fear. My friend Andrew Sullivan may be a hopeless Christian, but in discussing this special permission, awarded so generously to themselves by the godly, he made a truly secular observation. “How conveeenient,” was the way he phrased it.)

The open letter is full of lurid and gloating accounts, lifted from the Qur’an, of the tortures that await apostates like Ayaan Hirsi Ali in hell. It refers to her throughout as “Miss Hirshi Ali,” a mistake that has baffled some observers but which I think is obviously intended to make her sound more Jewish. The letter is obsessed with the Dutch Jews who are among the leadership of the Liberal Party and makes repeated references to anti-Gentile and racist remarks in Jewish scripture. Let’s admit by all means that there are such references, but the ones cited by Bouyeri seem all to be lifted from a fundamentalist anti-Semitic Web site that has falsified the texts it pretends to be scrutinizing. Other evidence strongly suggests that his manifesto was written for him by a group that sent him out to kill.

When the bin-Ladenist forces in Spain committed mass murder in the center of Madrid earlier in the year, they did so amid a huge controversy over the war in Iraq and on the eve of a general election. So badly did the Spanish government handle the affair—seeking to blame it all on a Basque nihilist faction—that many Spaniards were able implicitly to indict George W. Bush for the whole mess. This social and psychic suicide was not possible in the Dutch case. Holland gave up all concept of “empire” a generation ago. Moreover, it has since been the most generous and multicultural society in Europe, welcoming not only its former subjects from Indonesia but becoming a haven in general. And its reward has been to be targeted by Tawheed. One cannot emphasize enough that the victims here are not just secular artists like Theo van Gogh but people of Muslim origin who do not accept homicidal fundamentalism. This is the warning that many liberals have been overlooking or denying ever since the fatwah against Salman Rushdie in 1989. And it is spreading: even as I write this, a Belgian legislator of Moroccan extraction, Mimount Bousakla, has been threatened with “ritual slaughter” for denouncing van Gogh’s murder. Any thinking person can see that we will soon be facing jihad on the streets of Germany and France and England as well. A secret army has also been formed within our borders in the United States, though its triumphant first operation did not alert as many Europeans as it might have.

The Dutch are friendly and tolerant, but they do not like having this mistaken for weakness. A strong and hard reaction of decided outrage has set in. At first, the authorities misunderstood this. They sandblasted a mural that had been painted near the scene of the crime, which featured only the words “Thou shalt not kill.” (The imam of a local mosque had of course complained that such a display was “racist incitement.”) But people are now rightly fed up with having their own pluralism used against them, and the protest at this capitulation was almost as strong. I myself think it was the wrong mural to begin with. You cannot fight Islamic terror with Christianity, whether of the insipid or the crusader kind. The original commandment actually says “Thou shalt do no murder,” thus making it almost the only one of the ten that makes any sense. But we do not prepare for murder when we resolve to defend ourselves and when we take the side of people like Ms. Hirsi Ali and Ms. Bousakla in the Islamic civil war that seeks to poison our society and enslave theirs.


Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His latest collection of essays, Love, Poverty and War, is out from Nation Books.


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