Van Gogh Murderer Discourteous

The London Daily Telegraph is apparently surprised that Mohammed Bouyeri, on trial for the murder of Dutch filmaker Theo van Gogh, is not a nice man.

Contempt and defiance from Muslim accused of murdering film-maker (Telegraph)

The gulf between the West and radical Islam was on painful display yesterday when a young Muslim went on trial for the murder of the Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh but refused to recognise the court’s authority. Mohammed Bouyeri, a baby-faced 27-year-old with joint Moroccan and Dutch nationality, limped into court with what appeared to be a large Koran under one arm. Wearing a black, collarless gown and a black and white Palestinian-style headscarf, he smirked at the panel of three black-robed judges. He offered no defence, instructing his lawyer to tell the court that he acknowledged only Islamic law.

Bouyeri had refused to attend his trial, a right normally granted to defendants by Holland’s scrupulously liberal court system, but, in view of the impact of Mr van Gogh’s murder in November, he was forced to attend the hearing in a maximum security building in the Amsterdam suburb of Osdorp. Bouyeri displayed contempt for the judges, prosecutors, psychologists and police. He yawned, stroked his beard, prodded his face with a pen and played an imaginary piano on his thighs. Despite his bushy beard, Bouyeri appeared more like a sulky adolescent than a terrorist killer with links to Islamist cells in Germany, Madrid and beyond, portrayed by the prosecution.

Prosecutors said that Bouyeri shot Mr van Gogh on a busy Amsterdam street as the film-maker cycled to his office. Wounded, Mr van Gogh pleaded: “We can still talk about it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it.” The court was told that Bouyeri shot his victim six times then slit his throat with a kitchen knife, severing Mr van Gogh’s neck down to the backbone before impaling to his chest with the knife a five-page note threatening other public figures. Witness statements read in court described how he reloaded his gun then walked around a park before firing on a police vehicle, allegedly in an attempt to provoke a gunfight and die a martyr.

One would think the nature of the crime a much better illustration of “the gulf between the West and radical Islam” than a bit of smirking in court. While many mainstream press outlets can not bring itself to call those who murder civilians for political impact “terrorists,” they continue to be outraged when these murderers are defiant when put on trial by a system they obviously despise.

The mind boggles.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mark Hasty says:

    Why does this story remind me of Bob Dylan’s line, “You can believe what you want to, Abe, but . . .”?

  2. Scott in CA says:

    Well, I suggest we go along with his Islamic law and behead him on Amsterdam’s main square.