Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sharia Law In US Court

U.S. company: crash lawsuit governed by Islamic law
Company is sister to N.C.-based Blackwater
Joseph Neff and Jay Price, Staff Writers
Published: Jun 18, 2008

RALEIGH - To defend itself against a lawsuit by the widows of three American soldiers who died on one of its planes in Afghanistan, a sister company of the private military firm Blackwater has asked a federal court to decide the case using the Islamic law known as Shari’a.
The lawsuit “is governed by the law of Afghanistan,” Presidential Airways argued in a Florida federal court. “Afghan law is largely religion-based and evidences a strong concern for ensuring moral responsibility, and deterring violations of obligations within its borders.”

If the judge agrees, it would essentially end the lawsuit over a botched flight supporting the U.S. military. Shari’a law does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their work.

Erik Prince, who owns Blackwater and Presidential Airways, briefly discussed the lawsuit in a meeting today with editors and reporters at The News & Observer. Prince was asked to justify having a case involving an American company working for the U.S. government decided by Afghan law.

“Where did the crash occur?” Prince said. “Afghanistan.”

Joseph Schmitz, Prince’s general counsel, said Presidential Airways was asking the federal judge to follow past U.S. cases where courts have applied another country’s laws to resolve damages that occurred overseas.

The crash of Blackwater Flight 61 occurred in the rugged mountains of central Afghanistan in 2004, killing three soldiers and the three-man crew.

The widows of the soldiers sued Presidential Airways, Blackwater’s sister company, which was under contract with the U.S. military to fly cargo and personnel around Afghanistan.

Presidential Airways argued that the lawsuit must be dismissed; legal doctrine holds that soldiers cannot sue the government, and the company was acting as an agent of the government.

Last year, a series of federal judges dismissed that argument.

In April, Presidential asked a federal judge in Florida to dismiss the lawsuit because the case is controlled by Afghanistan’s Islamic law. If the judge agrees that Afghan law applies, the lawsuit would be dismissed. The company also plans to ask a judge to dismiss the lawsuit on the constitutional grounds that a court should not interfere in military decision-making.

The National Transportation Safety Board has blamed the crash on Presidential for its “failure to require its flight crews to file and fly a defined route,” and for not providing oversight to make sure its crews followed company policies and Pentagon and FAA safety regulations.

Report from the Northern Front: Montreal Redux

by David B. Harris
Special to IPT News
October 14, 2008

Canada's awakening to radical-Islamist penetration of its political, bureaucratic and social infrastructure, reached a watershed moment this month.

Quebec's new French-language anti-Islamist website, Point de Bascule – "tipping point" – sponsored a dramatic press conference in Montreal Oct. 2 on the dangers of hard-line Islamist penetration of Canada. But this was consciousness-raising with a powerful difference.

All three panelists were moderate Canadian Muslims. All three face death fatwas. And all three spoke unsparingly – some giving names and startling specifics – of the Sharia surge and stealth jihad in Quebec and the rest of Canada. Indeed, detailed allegations were heard about Islamist inroads into the federal New Democratic Party (NDP), Canada's social democratic party, and about infiltration of a government commission with power to define and silence "hate" speech. These were momentous claims in the context of Canada's national election campaign – the national vote takes place today. As evidenced by the number of journalists in attendance, the Quebec media were galvanized.

India-born Dr. Salim Mansur of the University of Western Ontario opened by calling on Canadians to end the political correctness and self-censorship that has muffled efforts to debate the stealth jihad – the gradual radical-Islamicizing of Canadian society. Like other speakers, he distinguished between moderate Muslims and Islamists, and warned of accelerating fundamentalist efforts "to establish a parallel society within Quebec and within Canada, as they are doing in Europe, that will be administered on the basis of Sharia."

Mansur cited Islamist demands, "in our multicultural society," "for gender exclusion ... for legal arbitration on the basis of Sharia in Ontario and Quebec, the promotion of Sharia finance." He pointed to demands for the right to have "veiled voting" in elections, complete with male-free zones in voting stations and female-only government cadres to verify veiled-voters' identity.

Professor Mansur warned stirringly of increasing radical penetration of Canada's political and social infrastructure. In the midst of the election, he turned his guns on Canada's social-democratic New Democratic Party (NDP). The Party and its leader, he said,

"have gone to bed with Islamists, operatives of the Canadian Islamic Congress, and other organizations, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations Canada, the Muslim Student Associations in our universities, ISNA – the Islamic Society of North America ... for reasons of sheer political opportunism at the expense of the security of our citizens, and defending the fundamental values of our democracy."

(For those unfamiliar with Canada's radical scene, the hard-line Canadian Islamic Congress was revealed to have given a media-excellence award to the founder of a Canadian-Islamic newspaper said to have had as its editorial line the assertion that 9/11 was a success, that Iranian-style theocracy should spread worldwide, and that Canada is a "fully paid-up member of the Anglo-Saxon mafia, which is responsible for most of the recorded genocides in the world." The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF), mentioned below, also recognized this individual with a special anniversary award.

During the first Gulf War, the CAF portrayed Canadian Arabs as victims of unnecessarily-aggressive interviewing by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), a portrayal that the independent, nonpartisan CSIS watchdog Security Intelligence Review Committee, found baseless. More recently, the CAF became notorious for campaigning against the outlawing of Hezbollah in Canada. For its part, the Canadian Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR-CAN] is the Canadian chapter of the Washington, DC-based, Saudi-funded Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR], an unindicted co-conspirator in the US Holy Land Foundation terror-financing trial. Like its American parent, CAIR-CAN engaged in unsuccessful lawsuits against media and other commentators who raised questions about its background and links; and, like its parent, CAIR-CAN is a defendant in the New York 9/11 lawsuit, Estate of John P. O'Neill, Sr. et al. vs. Al Baraka Investment and Development Corporation.)

Pakistani-Canadian Raheel Raza, a noted cross-cultural and interfaith facilitator and author of Their Jihad, Not My Jihad, rose to damn the radicals. She condemned Islamist grievance-mongering and attempts to alienate Muslims, particularly Muslim youth, from the mainstream. Noting that she was Number 5 on a radical-Islamist list of the world's most hated Muslims, she said she aspired to reach the Number 1 position.

But it was Pakistan-born pro-Palestinian socialist author, Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, who put a discernible chill through the assembly. A former senior official and candidate of the New Democratic Party (NDP), he declared that the NDP was the target of an Islamist takeover bid. This campaign was having success, he warned, and risked suborning the federalist party with the third largest number of seats in Canada's House of Commons.

Fatah highlighted the case of Dr. Samira Laouni, the NDP's veiled Moroccan-Canadian fundamentalist candidate for the Montreal constituency of Bourassa. A Canadian Islamic Congress Quebec operative, she had recently organized a visit to the city by British Taliban-apologist Yvonne Ridley. That event caused upset in Quebec, especially when it emerged that the federal NDP's Quebec "lieutenant," Thomas Mulcair, had rolled into the hardcore CIC session, yet continued to support Laouni despite her outlook. And all this came on top of the resignation of Laouni's Muslim campaign manager, when he was fixed with authorship of a published poem that contrasted the purity of veiled Muslim women with – as journalist Barbara Kay captured it – his idea of non-Muslim Quebec women as "promiscuous drunks."

But, according to Fatah, all this was only part of his concern about his former party. The 17-year veteran of the NDP, looked back with dismay on the Party's apparent unraveling by radicalism, and took careful aim:

"But slowly, I saw the Party open its doors to Islamists – first under [former NDP leader] Alexa McDonough, when supporters of Hamas and Hezbollah managed to join her personal legislative staff; and later, under [current leader] Jack Layton, when the doors were flung open. One Hezbollah supporter even managed to become the Ontario NDP's vice president."

Fatah claimed that "in the last NDP leadership campaign, I was witness to an attempt by a group of wealthy Islamists, to back one Member of Parliament for the leadership, with the stated objective of controlling the Party." He spoke of "six or seven" business people "who were advised that, of all the parties in Canada, the NDP was the easiest to take over and make to serve the Islamist agenda."

Fatah asserts that he "was present when this meeting took place," and would be prepared to "point out the people" who raised about $100,000 for the Islamist leadership campaign. The author of Chasing a Mirage and now a supporter of the Liberal Party, said he "informed Jack Layton of the scheme" including the radicals' attempts to portray Layton as "pro-Israel."

"But," Fatah added, "by 2006, I had come to the conclusion that the Party was up for grabs, and noticed a countrywide recruitment in the NDP by pro-Hamas and pro-Hezbollah activists," and withdrew from the NDP. "Today, the NDP is running Islamist candidates and its discourse is dominated by support of terror suspects in the guise of a defense of human rights."

Fatah expressed particular concern about certain Muslim NDP candidates' waging of a "relentless campaign to portray Canada as essentially anti-Muslim, and to instill a sense of forced victimhood among Muslim youth." He took to task one such candidate – a lawyer – for reportedly proclaiming that the judge who recently convicted the first of the alleged "Toronto 18" terrorists, did so because of anti-Muslim bias.

"Thia is a practicing lawyer accusing our judiciary of being anti-Muslim," Fatah declared. Practically demanding a professional-conduct investigation by the Ontario attorneys' governing Law Society of Upper Canada, he added, "Can you imagine what effect this [claim] is going to have on 10- or 12- or 15-year-old young men who are consistently told that this is a war against Islam?"

Infiltrating and Silencing

Depicting the NDP travails as a reflection of the broader international jihad by "political Islam" against the liberal-pluralist values of the West, Fatah then turned to the campaign against free speech. He reminded the audience that the Organization of Islamic Conference is pushing at the UN and elsewhere for Sharia-oriented "blasphemy" laws that would silence efforts to define and describe the enemy. He pointed to the way that the Canadian Islamic Congress had used Canada's human-rights' commissions, and their complaint mechanisms, to lay siege to publications such as Maclean's, Canada's leading newsmagazine. Then his focus narrowed to one illustrative aspect of this campaign.

Earlier this year, Commission chief Barbara Hall, handed down a decision that dismissed a complaint against Maclean's for publishing an excerpt from Mark Steyn's bestseller, America Alone. The CIC had complained that the publication was anti-Muslim hate literature.

Free speech advocates would have been satisfied with the dismissal, and this should have ended the matter. But Hall, in a virtually unprecedented departure from acceptable conduct, went on to proclaim that Maclean's had been guilty of anti-Muslim prejudice. Indeed, as though writing from the CIC's playbook, she even pelted Maclean's with that rather contrived construct, "Islamophobia." Few understood at the time, how such extraordinary and damaging conclusions could have been reached without benefit of hearings, evidence, or any opportunity for Maclean's to cross-examine or make a defense.

After the release of the Commission's statement, the middle-of-the-road Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC), an organization originally founded by Mr. Fatah, spoke for many in its official April 2008 response:

"... in editorializing and coming out to bat for Canada's Islamists, the OHRC is sending a very dangerous message to moderate Muslims who reject Sharia and do not take inspiration from overseas Islamic countries or groups.

On the one hand the OHRC criticizes Macleans for "portraying Muslims as all sharing the same negative characteristics," but then does the same thing by perpetuating the Islamist myth that Muslims in Canada are a persecuted group. Those of us Muslims who do not share this addiction of victimhood, seem to have no resonance with the OHRC.


The OHRC decision must be cause for celebration in Osama Bin Laden's cave and among the soldiers of the world Jihadi movement that love to spread the falsehood that Canada is at war with Islam and that Muslims in Canada live under a cloud of racism and persecution. Nothing can be further from the truth."

But how could a Commission of the Ontario Government have erred so seriously? At the Point de Bascule press conference, Mr. Fatah offered an answer:

"... if you're scratching your heads, reading the outrageous attacks on Maclean's magazine by Barbara Hall, ... let me share with you the news that the Ontario Human Rights Commission is itself infiltrated by Islamists, and I say that on the record. One of its commissioners ... is an admirer of Ayatollah Khomeini and has close links to the Canadian Islamic Congress. This is the CIC that filed the complaint against Maclean's, and this man was sitting as judge and jury. Another Commissioner also has close links to the CIC and is a former President of the Canadian Arab Federation – again, closely linked to the Canadian Islamic Congress. But how many Canadians know this is happening?

And, [as] if that was not all, let me assure you that the senior policy advisor at the Ontario Human Rights Commission who wrote the document that Barbara Hall signed, is openly supportive of Sharia law – in fact, he comes to work dressed in Saudi attire."

At the Montreal gathering, a small handful of hard-liners eventually made itself known during the event's question period. One mature, head-scarfed woman challenged the speakers' portrayal of Samira Laouni's involvement with Taliban proxy Yvonne Ridley – until the questioner was forced to admit that she, herself, was implicated with Laouni as an organizer of the radical forum. Neither was her case helped by a journalist at the back of the hall, who, offended by the attempt to spin the audience, declared that she – the journalist – had personally witnessed the Ridley performance. A few days after this, and the NDP hierarchy's unappetizing connections seemed beyond doubt.

Days after the Montreal event, on October 6, several controversial Muslim groups – including the Quebec wings of the CIC and Canadian Arab Federation – convened a candidates' debate in an Islamic community center in the Montreal-area constituency of Brossard-La Prairie. Heeding the Islamist summons, the Liberal, NDP and Green parties' candidates reported for duty, as did the incumbent Member of Parliament, the separatist Bloc Québécois' Marcel Lussier. Only the candidate for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's governing Conservative Party failed to show up. The others were in a close, multi-party fight to the finish for the four percent of the vote that would be Muslim.

As though determined to prove the accuracy of the earlier Mansur, Fatah and Raza warnings about betrayal by political elites, the politicos turned the "debate" into a reverse auction. Desperate to win over radical voters, candidates out-pandered and outbid one another, going farther than some of their jihadi audience in condemning counterterrorism, humoring altogether undemonstrated victimhood claims, and generally feeding radicals' propagation of persecution fears.

In the face of this, none of the candidates came to the aid of their country. None of them have argued, like Fatah, that Muslims have more freedom, rights and prosperity in Canada than in virtually any "Muslim" country. No one reassured those who were unnecessarily worried or alienated. No one mentioned that the real victims of racial and religious abuse in Canada were statistically the same as always – black Canadians and Jews – or that American statistics suggested that the extent of abuse of Muslims in the United States, while unacceptable, was only marginally greater than the combined level of abused Protestants and Catholics.

Instead, the candidates accepted without demur questions from their audience incorporating counterfactual premises about rampaging racial profiling, immigration restrictions, persecution and – according to one spectator – the need for "special laws" against such things.

Racial profiling – "le profilage raciale" – was "inacceptable", thundered incumbent Bloc MP Lussier. "[U]ne tolerance zero" for "Islamophobie," exclaimed Liberal Alexandra Mendes.

On the no-panderer-left-behind principle, the NDP's entrant, Hoang Mai, declared that Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act, the country's fundamental counterterrorism measure, should simply be "abolished." Sniffing the wind, Member of Parliament Lussier flashed his trump: the Hamas movement, he said triumphantly, is the legitimate government of the Palestinian people.

Canada is in trouble.

David B. Harris is a Canadian lawyer, Director of INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc's International and Terrorist Intelligence Program, and former Chief of Strategic Planning of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
Original article at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First Time FBI Calls Case an 'Honor Killing'

Almost a year after two teenage girls were found dead — allegedly executed by their father — in the back seat of a taxicab in Texas, the FBI is saying for the first time that the case may have been an "honor killing."

Sarah Said, 17, and her sister Amina, 18, were killed on New Year's Day, but for nine months authorities deflected questions about whether their father — the prime suspect and the subject of a nationwide manhunt — may have targeted them because of a perceived slight upon his honor.

The girls' great-aunt, Gail Gartrell, says the girls' Egyptian-born father killed them both because he felt they disgraced the family by dating non-Muslims and acting too Western, and she called the girls' murders an honor killing from the start.

But the FBI held off on calling it an honor killing until just recently, when it made Yaser Abdel Said the "featured fugitive" on its Web site.

"That's what I've been trying to tell everybody all along," Gartrell told "I would say that's a victory."

But some Muslims say that calling the case an honor killing goes too far.

"As far as we're concerned, until the motive is proven in a court of law, this is [just] a homicide," Mustafaa Carroll, the executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations in Dallas, told

He said he worries that terms like "honor killing" may stigmatize the Islamic community. “We (Muslims) don’t have the market on jealous husbands ... or domestic violence,” Carroll said.

The United Nations estimates that 5,000 women are killed worldwide every year in honor killings — mostly in the Middle East, where many countries still have laws that protect men who murder female relatives they believe have engaged in inappropriate activity. A U.N. report includes chilling examples of such cases.

“On the order of clerics, an 18-year-old woman was flogged to death in Batsail, Bangladesh, for "immoral behavior,” the report reads. “In Egypt, a father paraded his daughter's severed head through the streets shouting, ‘I avenged my honor.’”
But Islamic scripture in no way condones such actions, Carroll said.

"People have their own cultural nuances and norms from before they got their religion," he said. "This is not Islamic culture."

Regardless of whether religion itself is to blame, Gartrell said it is important that society recognizes the case as having a cultural element, just to prevent similar crimes in the future.

"That culture is so different," Gartrell said. "If people had been more educated about it, they would have known that when the girls told people, 'Dad wants to kill me' — they were serious."

Many of the threats against Sarah and Amina Said were known to their friends and classmates.

High school friends told the Dallas Morning News that the girls sometimes came in with welts and bruises, which they confided were inflicted by their father. One time, Yaser Said reportedly went into one daughter's bedroom waving a gun and making threats on her life.

After he threatened to kill one daughter in December 2007 — documented in text messages Sarah Said sent to a friend — the girls and their mother, Patricia, fled from their home in Lewisville, Texas, to Tulsa, Okla. But the mother soon had a change of heart and went back, leading to the tragedy on January 1. Some, including Gartrell, believe the mother may even have been complicit in the murders.

Dr. Phyllis Chesler, author of several books, including "The Death of Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom," said that the case fits the description of an honor killing.

"The premeditation, the family collaboration, and the particular rules (set for the girls) make this consistent with an honor killing — not just domestic violence,” she said.

She said she hoped that calling the case an "honor killing" might indicate a shift in attitude at the FBI.

"I think this may suggest that law enforcement is beginning to realize that they may have to treat these incidents differently if they are to either prevent or prosecute," Chesler told
She noted that the United Kingdom has a special police unit to deal with “honor-related violence,” and said that she hoped that the situation in the U.S. does not get to the point where that becomes necessary.

But an FBI spokesman played down the significance of the listing, saying that the change on the wanted listing was simply due to more information coming out about the case since it was first listed and that it shouldn't matter what the case is called.

"We're just looking at how do we find the guy?" said FBI special agent Mark White, media coordinator in the bureau's Dallas office.

Irving Police Department Public Information Officer David Tull agreed. "We just look at the facts. The man killed his two daughters. This is a domestic violence, multiple-capital murder case."

Tull said that, unfortunately, there have still been no sightings or major leads — a fact that distresses Gartrell.

"I'm very upset about it," said Gartrell, who argues that the case needs special consideration. "This is not a typical murder case. When a family member murders another family member to protect [the family] name — that's different."

Click here to see the FBI's Wanted poster for Yaser Said.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why Theo Van Gogh Died

A Dutch journalist explains why the controversial filmmaker was gunned down on an Amsterdam street. TAP talks to Marc Chavannes.
This article is reprinted from The American Prospect.

In the weeks after the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim extremist on November 2, 2004 Holland, a country known for its culture of tolerance, experienced unprecedented levels of racial and ethnic violence. Last Wednesday, Marc Chavannes, Washington correspondent for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, talked with TAP’s Mark Goldberg about the rise of the contentious Dutch Muslim subculture and the repercussions of van Gogh’s murder.

A Dutch friend of mine told me, “I went to bed in Holland but woke up in a completely different country.” Does this capture the prevalent mood in the Netherlands right now?

The van Gogh murder is a little bit like our 9-11. The degree to which the United States had changed after 9-11 was hard to fathom in Europe. Now, this one murder seems to be having a similar effect on my fellow Dutch nationals.

In Europe we have experienced our own homegrown terrorism for years, so although Dutch people felt enormous solidarity with Americans after 9-11, many asked, “Aren’t Americans a bit too focused on themselves when they keep saying that 9-11 was some huge paradigm shift?”

The Netherlands, right now, is undergoing a similar sort of attitudinal change. It will be interesting to watch whether this change sparks a shift in Europeans’ generally hostile attitude towards George W. Bush’s aggressive foreign policy and his “axis of evil” style approach to the world.

Could you explain how the Dutch understand a “pillarized” society? Very few Americans are familiar with this concept.

When one talks about the “pillarization” of Dutch society, what they mean is a political system predicated upon compromise. It is a pluralistic tradition that was born out of an enlightenment era recognition that no one religious group — that is the Catholics, Protestants, or others — will ever emerge as a clear majority of the population.

In practice, throughout much of the last century, what pillarization meant was that Catholics, Protestants, and secular social democrats built up completely separate institutions for themselves. From political parties, to separate trade unions, schools, radio and television stations, and even weekend sporting clubs, the groups didn’t intermingle much. The dominant attitude was live and let live. So long as it didn’t affect you, one didn’t concern oneself with the goings-on of the other group. In a way, this was the social and political shape of what many people refer to as the Dutch culture of tolerance.

And the 20th century saw the decline of the pillars?

In the last decades you saw the emergence of a secular reality that deprived the pillars of their significance. Whatever the resulting “Dutch” identity, religious affiliation became less prevalent. By the later decades of the 20th century, the old system was crumbling. For example, trade unions merged and newspapers stopped telling their readers for whom they should vote.

At that time, the Dutch experienced their first big wave of Muslim immigrants.

In the 1950s and 1960s a large number of Dutch industrial corporations needed more labor. They couldn’t find that in Holland or Europe so they looked to countries with too many hands and too few jobs — mainly Turkey and Morocco. The government labeled the people who were offered contracts “temporary guest laborers.” There was no return policy, and in time many were entitled to remain permanently and let their families come over.

Now in Rotterdam and Amsterdam you have second- and third-generation children of immigrants who are Dutch, speak Dutch as their first language, but who, to a certain degree, have not been well integrated into mainstream Dutch society. They remain between two cultures and a few are prone to listen to radical Islamist sirens.

Many schools in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht have grown to teach an immigrant majority. These so called ‘black schools’ bear out the problems of incomplete integration.

It seems that the wave of Muslim immigrants has ushered in a revival of the pillarization formula.

Whereas the Dutch pillarization model was crumbling, all of a sudden, Dutch politicians, most notably the Christian Democrats, proposed this Dutch pillarization approach for Muslims. So, for example, Muslims were given, according to the old formula, the right to organize Muslim schools with state support.

While some of the schools worked, others didn’t too well and apparently became breeding grounds for an ideology that wasn’t respectful of western liberal democracy. Under the old model, the inspector of schools would make sure that a Protestant, Catholic, or secular school adequately taught things like math, languages, and [physical education]. But school inspectors wouldn’t check what they were teaching about religion — that was considered their own personal business. The traditional hands-off policy has painfully shown its limits with these schools.

Were politicians slow to respond because of a general taboo against placing judgment on those who belong to a separate religious group?

Multiculturalism was tried and tested in many European countries, but it came very natural to the Dutch with their pillarized system. We have had a lot of policies well-tailored to multiculturalism, I mean, what’s more logical than saying, “I’m Catholic, you’re Protestant, go ahead! You’re Muslim? Fine!”

But we have not done a lot to really help people integrate. For example, we hesitated for very long on whether we should demand that new immigrants learn the Dutch language or teach them in their own language.

That said, we certainly have had a couple of moments when people were speaking out against multiculturalism. However, no one did this with great punch and charisma until Pim Fortuyn emerged as a political force. He came from nowhere politically to create a party that may have been the second largest in Parliament if not for his assassination in May 2003. This proved that there was a huge reservoir of popular unease with the taboo against criticizing how Muslims conduct their business.

To his supporters, Pim Fortuyn seemed to lift this intolerable burden of political correctness from the public debate. What happened after his death?

In the climate following Fortuyn’s assassination, without a clear critic of multiculturalism, people like Van Gogh emerged to fill that void.

In the American press he is dubbed a “filmmaker,” but he was more than that — he was a provocateur. He sometimes used terrible language and he was absolutely convinced that not just Islamic fundamentalism, but Islam itself is a “primitive religion” (as he called it).

He was an essayist, on radio and TV, and had a website which was his refuge whenever he was kicked out of a newspaper column — which actually happened a lot because no editor in chief can maintain a columnist who crosses the line week after week. But it was revelatory and fascinating for the mixed responses his work emoted from the public.

In many ways, tensions between the Muslim immigrant population and the white Dutch native population have been brewing for years. Is van Gogh’s murder simply a violent manifestation of this tension?

More than anything else, it was the ritual fashion in which Van Gogh was executed that made it abundantly clear to most Dutch people that now we are talking about the real thing: Islamist fundamentalism.

How, then, is this shaping public opinion?

A new Fortuyn is emerging, or so he likes to think: Geert Wilders, who split with the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. In the meanwhile there is a fierce debate about the limits of multiculturalism, free speech, and the long-cherished culture of tolerance.

For example, in the last year or two, the well known Dutch novelist Leon de Winter has become an outspoken ambassador for what can be considered neoconservative points of view. He writes a blog in which he links frequently to the National Review and Wall Street Journal op-ed page and other like-minded American sources.

As long as the subject matter of his blog and columns was terrorism and the war in Iraq, he seemed to be somewhat out of sync with popular opinion in the Netherlands. A majority of Dutch people probably didn’t see his point, and neither did they recognize that his intellectual counterparts were a very clearly defined section of the American Commentariat.

After the Van Gogh murder, he suddenly seems more in step with popular sentiments in the Netherlands. With the same links, same convictions, and same deep distrust of what he calls the Islamization of Europe, his views are now more palpable to the public.

Mark Leon Goldberg is a Prospect writing fellow.
• This article is available on The American Prospect website.
Copyright ? 2004 by The American Prospect, Inc. Preferred Citation: Mark Leon Goldberg, “The Death of van Gogh”, The American Prospect Online, Dec 3, 2004. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. Direct questions about permissions to