Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Other Van Gogh

Most of us are familiar with Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch painter. Less famous is his relative, Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker, who was brutally murdered on November 2, 2004.

Theo van Gogh was murdered because of his art. He had made a documentary film about the treatment of women in Islamic societies. He questioned whether it was appropriate for Muslim leaders to continue to repeat advice, found in the Qur'an, that husbands should beat their wives if they wives fail to obey. Theo van Gogh also documented how Islam prevented women from attending school and gaining an education.

On the morning of his death, Theo was riding his bicycle to work. Muslim gunmen, who were waiting for him, opened fire; he was hit several times, and fatally wounded. Not content with killing him, the assassins stabbed him with a knife, and then used the knife to attach a five-page note to Theo's body. The note stated that the governments of Europe were the object of "jihad", and listed specific government leaders in Holland who would be targeted for assassination.

It seems that more than one member of the van Gogh family produced turbulent art, and faced a tragic death.