Email from a Reader re: The Death of Theo Van Gogh

I posted the news about Theo Van Gogh’s murder, and quickly received this interesting reply that fills in more of the picture. With the writer’s permission, I’d like to share it with you:

… I want you to know a little bit more about Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who was murdered last Tuesday in Amsterdam. (By the way, I’m from the Netherlands.)

I conclude from your comment on the “Michael Moore’s ego” post [which has since been deleted for other reasons - Jeffrey] that Theo van Gogh has become something of a martyr in the fight against radical islam.

Just a little bit of background information: Theo van Gogh was an extremely provocative person. He was not only a filmmaker, but also a newspaper columnist. With what he wrote and said he offended almost everybody. The last few years he mainly aimed at Muslims, but he once called Christians “supporters of the rotten fish of Nazareth”. In his columns he referred to Muslims as “goat f—–s” and called a leader of a radical muslim group “the pimp of the Prophet”.

What happened last Tuesday shocked me. I knew who Van Gogh was and what he said. It was clear that he angered Muslims. He received several dead threats in past few months. But it’s horrifying when someone decides to use a gun.

I have mixed feelings. There absolutely no justification whatsoever for the killing of Theo van Gogh. And there’s a lot to say about the growing threat of radical muslim terrorism. But I’m convinced that Van Gogh did also cross a line. But he did it ‘only’ with words.

Oh, and his movie about violence against women under Islam DID cause some uproar. But I don’t think that’s what bothered (radical) Muslims the most. In my view the killing has less to do with that movie, than with his constant scolding of Muslims and their religion.

What Van Gogh said about Muslims didn’t really enter American news reports. So I’m certainly NOT blaming you.

“Now they’re killing filmmakers who speak ill of Islamic oppression”. That’s right. But there’s more to say. Unfortunately.

Matthijs de Jong

Ede, The Netherlands


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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Matt

    It may very well be that van Gogh was a tremendous jerk, but at this point, I can’t see bringing it up. The Netherlands are being infiltrated by a segment of Islamo-facism that feels justified in killing anyone who disrespects its faith. I understand what the writer is trying to say. There have been religous/political murder victims in this country who have been jerks in life, but this was no freak accident.