Mohammed Bouyeri

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Mohammed Bouyeri
Bouyeri.jpg
Bouyeri in 2004
Born (1978-03-08) 8 March 1978 (age 36)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Criminal charge
Murder, terrorism
Criminal penalty
Life without parole
Criminal status In prison

Mohammed Bouyeri (Arabic: محمد بويري‎) (born 8 March 1978) is a Dutch–Moroccan Islamist and convicted murderer who is serving a life sentence without parole for the assassination of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh. He holds both Dutch and Moroccan citizenship and was a member of the Hofstad Network.

Life[edit]

In 1995, Mohammed Bouyeri finished his secondary education. He changed his major several times and left after five years without obtaining a degree. A second-generation migrant from Morocco, Bouyeri used the pen name "Abu Zubair" for writing and translating. He often posted letters online and sent e-mails under this name.

At an early age he was known to the police as a member of a group of Moroccan "problem-youth". For a while he worked as a volunteer at Eigenwijks, a neighbourhood organization in Amsterdam's Slotervaart suburb. After his mother died and his father re-married in the fall of 2003, he started to live according to strict interpretations of Islamic Sharia law. As a result he could perform fewer and fewer tasks at Eigenwijks. For example, he refused to serve alcohol and did not want to be present at activities attended by both women and men. Finally, he put an end to his activities at Eigenwijks altogether. He grew a beard and began to wear a djellaba. He frequently visited the El Tawheed mosque where he met other radical Muslims, among whom was the suspected terrorist Samir Azzouz. With the group of radicals he is said to have formed the Hofstad Network, a Dutch terrorist cell. He claims to have assassinated van Gogh to send a warning to excommunicated Somali-Dutch politician Ms. Ali, in a note which he left pinned to Van Gogh's lifeless body with a knife after having shot him.

Assassination of Theo van Gogh[edit]

Background[edit]

Filmmaker Theo van Gogh was notorious for his crude insults to "everyone respected in postwar multicultural Dutch society, including Jews and Muslims".[1] In 2004, he and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who was a Dutch member of parliament at the time, directed a short film called Submission, Part I about violence against women, and the Islam. In the film women are shown wearing transparent clothes with verses of the Quran written on their bodies. The film aired in August 2004 on Dutch television in prime time, the ensuing outcry led the Dutch police to offer police protection for both directors, but van Gogh refused. His death was a "direct result of the film".[1]

Assassination[edit]

The 26-year-old Bouyeri assassinated Van Gogh in the early morning of 2 November 2004, in Amsterdam, in front of the city's East Borough office (stadsdeelkantoor) on the corner of the Linnaeusstraat and Tweede Oosterparkstraat (52°21′32.22″N 4°55′34.74″E / 52.3589500°N 4.9263167°E / 52.3589500; 4.9263167), while he was bicycling to work.[2] Bouyeri shot van Gogh eight times with a handgun, who was hit, as were two bystanders. Wounded, Van Gogh ran to the other side of the road and fell to the ground on the cycle lane. According to eyewitnesses, Van Gogh's last words were: "Mercy, mercy! We can talk about it, can't we?"

Bouyeri then walked up to Van Gogh, who was still lying down, and calmly shot him several more times at close range. Bouyeri then cut Van Gogh’s throat and tried to decapitate him with a large knife, after which he stabbed the knife deep into Van Gogh's chest, reaching his spinal cord.[3] He then attached a note to the body with a smaller knife before fleeing. Van Gogh died on the spot.[4] The note threatened Western governments, Jews and Ayaan Hirsi Ali and referenced the ideologies of the Egyptian organization Takfir wal-Hijra.

Arrest[edit]

Shortly afterwards, Bouyeri was arrested close to the scene of the crime, following an exchange of gunfire with police during which he was shot in the leg. In his interrogations, he exercised his right to remain silent. On November 11, public prosecutor Leo de Wit accused him of six criminal acts: murder, attempted murder (of a police officer), attempted manslaughter (of by-standers and police officers), violation of the law on gun control, suspicion of participation in a criminal organization with terrorist aims, and conspiracy to murder with a terrorist purpose Van Gogh, member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and others.

When arrested, Bouyeri had on him a farewell poem titled In bloed gedoopt ("Baptized in Blood"), which makes it appear that he intended to die a martyr. Pinned to the body of Van Gogh with a smaller knife was a written warning to Ms. Ali, consisting of five pages which make mention of the Jewish political actors in Ms. Ali's party, as well as other parties in Dutch politics. It contains repeated references to Jewish party-backers and party-leaders. The letter refers to the fundamentalist ideology of the Takfir wal-Hijra. This letter probably was not written by Mohammed Bouyeri himself, but by his group's ideologist. It was signed Saifu Deen alMuwahhied.

Trial[edit]

Bouyeri's trial took place over two days, 11 and 12 July 2005, in a high-security building in Amsterdam's Osdorp neighborhood. In a letter on 8 July, he announced that he would not attend the trial voluntarily and that he did not accept its jurisdiction.[5] The prosecutor demanded that he be forcibly transported to the courthouse, which the court granted. Bouyeri's lawyers did attend the trial but did not ask questions or make closing statements. Bouyeri appeared before the court carrying a Qur'an under his arm.[6] At the trial Bouyeri expressed no remorse for the murder he admitted to having done, saying to the victim's mother: "I don’t feel your pain. I don’t have any sympathy for you. I can’t feel for you because I think you’re a non-believer." [7] and that he would have done it again. Bouyeri also argued that "in the fight of the believers against the infidels violence is approved by the prophet Muhammad".[8]

The prosecutor demanded life imprisonment for Bouyeri, stating: "The defendant rejects our democracy. He even wants to bring down our democracy. With violence. He is insistent. To this day. He sticks to his views with perseverance."[9] On 26 July 2005, Bouyeri received a life sentence, which is the most severe punishment under Dutch law and carries no chance of parole (an early release is technically possible via a pardon by the reigning monarch but this is incredibly rare). Other than war criminals, Bouyeri is only the 28th person to receive this punishment since 1945. Life sentences were seen only with multiple-homicide cases, but the Wet terroristische misdrijven ("terrorist crimes law") that went into effect on 10 August 2004 extended it to leaders of terrorist organisations. Imprisonments ordinarily in excess of 15 years can be upgraded to life imprisonment, as was the case with Bouyeri.[10]

He is held in Nieuw Vosseveld prison.

Aftermath[edit]

Serving as witness in another court case involving the Hofstad Network in May 2007, Bouyeri stated that armed jihad was the only option of Muslims in the Netherlands and that democracy was always a violation of Islam because laws cannot be produced by humans but only by Allah.[11][12] Six years after the assassination, in a letter to a Muslim group in Belgium, he writes that he still has no regret killing Van Gogh.[13]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Amsterdam artist Marlene Dumas drew a portrait of Bouyeri in 2005 that has been prominently displayed in the Stedelijk Museum[1]
  • Leon de Winter's bestselling 2012 novel Acts of Kindness features Bouyeri and van Gogh as characters, with van Gogh as "a guardian angel protecting children whose school has been the target of a terrorist attack".[1]
  • Journalist Theodor Holman, one of van Gogh’s best friends, wrote a film in 2014 called 2/11 – Het Spel van de Wolf (a reference to the date van Gogh was killed, November 2; "The Game of the Wolf") that "posits a far-fetched theory that the CIA was in a way responsible for the murder by pressuring the Dutch secret service not to arrest Mr. Bouyeri—whom Dutch authorities had been monitoring—to use him to get to a bigger fish with ties to Al Qaeda".[1] The film premiered at the Netherlands Film Festival in October 2014 and played on national television on November 2, 2014.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ian Buruma, Murder in Amsterdam: the Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance (New York: Penguin Press, 2006). ISBN 9781594201080