Mohammed Bouyeri

Mohammed Bouyeri was a dual Dutch-Moroccan citizen who murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Bouyeri shot and stabbed van Gogh as he cycled to work on November 2, 2004.Marlise Simons, “Dutch Filmmaker, an Islam Critic, Is Killed,” New York Times, November 3, 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/03/world/europe/dutch-filmmaker-an-islam-critic-is-killed.html;
Jason Burke, “The murder that shattered Holland’s liberal dream,” Guardian (London), November 7, 2004, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/07/terrorism.religion.
He professed that he targeted van Gogh out of religious conviction, as van Gogh was a prominent critic of Islamic fundamentalism and had recently directed a short film criticizing the treatment of women by Islam.“Van Gogh killer jailed for life,” BBC News, July 26, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4716909.stm;
Francie Grace, “Van Gogh Slay Suspect Confesses,” CBS News, July 12, 2005, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/van-gogh-slay-suspect-confesses/;
Rebecca Leung, “Slaughter and ‘Submission,’” CBS News, March 13, 2005; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/slaughter-and-submission-11-03-2005/.
Bouyeri was charged with murder and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.Rebecca Leung, “Slaughter and ‘Submission,’” CBS News, March 13, 2005; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/slaughter-and-submission-11-03-2005/;
“Van Gogh killer jailed for life,” BBC News, July 26, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4716909.stm.

Bouyeri was born in Amsterdam to a family of Moroccan descent. According to the New Yorker, Bouyeri completed high school, was interested in social work, and “was known to his teachers as a promising young man.”Ian Buruma, “Final Cut,” New Yorker, January 3, 2005, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/01/03/final-cut-2. Bouyeri worked to help other Moroccan youth at a youth center in his neighborhood, Eigenwijks, and even made plans to open a community center of his own.Ian Buruma, “Final Cut,” New Yorker, January 3, 2005, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/01/03/final-cut-2;
Hassan Bahara, “Rijst op uit jullie slaap,” De Groene Amsterdammer (Amsterdam), October 22, 2014, https://www.groene.nl/artikel/rijst-op-uit-jullie-slaap.
At one point, he ran into some trouble with authorities over minor theft and assault crimes, but then began a course in social work at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences in late 2001 or 2002.Hassan Bahara, “Rijst op uit jullie slaap,” De Groene Amsterdammer (Amsterdam), October 22, 2014, https://www.groene.nl/artikel/rijst-op-uit-jullie-slaap;
Jason Burke, “The murder that shattered Holland’s liberal dream,” Guardian (London), November 7, 2004, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/07/terrorism.religion.

Bouyeri’s behavior reportedly began to change sometime after his mother’s unexpected death in 2002. He abandoned his studies at the end of the year, went on welfare, and became much more religiously conservative.Hassan Bahara, “Rijst op uit jullie slaap,” De Groene Amsterdammer (Amsterdam), October 22, 2014, https://www.groene.nl/artikel/rijst-op-uit-jullie-slaap;
Ian Buruma, “Final Cut,” New Yorker, January 3, 2005, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/01/03/final-cut-2.
He could no longer perform his work at the youth center due to some of his newly adopted conservative views and behaviors, such as a refusal to serve alcohol.Hassan Bahara, “Rijst op uit jullie slaap,” De Groene Amsterdammer (Amsterdam), October 22, 2014, https://www.groene.nl/artikel/rijst-op-uit-jullie-slaap. At this time, he also began attending a fundamentalist mosque called El Tawheed, where he began associating with other Muslim fundamentalists.Ian Buruma, “Final Cut,” New Yorker, January 3, 2005, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/01/03/final-cut-2. He began dressing more conservatively, adopting the name “Abu Zubair” as a pseudonym, and writing fundamentalist and anti-Western texts of his own, some of which he published online.Hassan Bahara, “Rijst op uit jullie slaap,” De Groene Amsterdammer (Amsterdam), October 22, 2014, https://www.groene.nl/artikel/rijst-op-uit-jullie-slaap;
Ian Buruma, “Final Cut,” New Yorker, January 3, 2005, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/01/03/final-cut-2.
Bouyeri also reportedly began attending regular meetings with a group of extremists based in The Hague and frequently hosted many guests, who a neighbor claimed would arrive “dressed in traditional robes,” in his home.Ian Buruma, “Final Cut,” New Yorker, January 3, 2005, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/01/03/final-cut-2;
Craig G. Smith, “Dutch Look for Qaeda Link After Killing of Filmmaker,” New York Times, November 8, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/08/world/europe/dutch-look-for-qaeda-link-after-killing-of-filmmaker.html.
Bouyeri first came to the attention of authorities in connection with a man named Samir Azzouz, who was arrested in 2003 on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack. Authorities later alleged that he belonged to a group of mostly Dutch terrorists and extremists called the Hofstad Network.Craig G. Smith, “Dutch Look for Qaeda Link After Killing of Filmmaker,” New York Times, November 8, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/08/world/europe/dutch-look-for-qaeda-link-after-killing-of-filmmaker.html;
“Van Gogh Killer Gets Life in Prison,” Fox News, July 26, 2005, http://www.foxnews.com/story/2005/07/26/van-gogh-killer-gets-life-in-prison.html.

On the morning of November 2, 2004, Bouyeri killed Dutch writer and filmmaker Theo van Gogh on a street in Amsterdam as he cycled to work at about 8:30 a.m. local time.Marlise Simons, “Dutch Filmmaker, an Islam Critic, Is Killed,” New York Times, November 3, 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/03/world/europe/dutch-filmmaker-an-islam-critic-is-killed.html;
Jason Burke, “The murder that shattered Holland’s liberal dream,” Guardian (London), November 7, 2004, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/07/terrorism.religion.
Bouyeri first fired shots at van Gogh from across the street, then stabbed him multiple times with a knife and slit his throat.Marlise Simons, “Dutch Filmmaker, an Islam Critic, Is Killed,” New York Times, November 3, 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/03/world/europe/dutch-filmmaker-an-islam-critic-is-killed.html;
Andrew Anthony, “Amsterdammed, part one,” Guardian (London), December 5, 2004, https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2004/dec/05/features.magazine77.
Bouyeri pinned two notes to van Gogh’s body with the knife, then fled to a nearby park, where he entered into a gunfight with police before he was arrested.Marlise Simons, “Dutch Filmmaker, an Islam Critic, Is Killed,” New York Times, November 3, 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/03/world/europe/dutch-filmmaker-an-islam-critic-is-killed.html;
Jason Burke, “The murder that shattered Holland’s liberal dream,” Guardian (London), November 7, 2004, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/07/terrorism.religion.
Bouyeri and a policeman both suffered injuries from the gunfight.Marlise Simons, “Dutch Filmmaker, an Islam Critic, Is Killed,” New York Times, November 3, 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/03/world/europe/dutch-filmmaker-an-islam-critic-is-killed.html.

Bouyeri’s trial took place in July of 2005. During his trial, Bouyeri confessed to the killing and professed that he targeted van Gogh out of religious conviction.“Van Gogh killer jailed for life,” BBC News, July 26, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4716909.stm. Van Gogh was a prominent critic of Islamic fundamentalism, and had directed a short film called “Submission,” which criticized Islam’s treatment of women.Francie Grace, “Van Gogh Slay Suspect Confesses,” CBS News, July 12, 2005, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/van-gogh-slay-suspect-confesses/;
Rebecca Leung, “Slaughter and ‘Submission,’” CBS News, March 13, 2005; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/slaughter-and-submission-11-03-2005/.
One of the notes left pinned to van Gogh’s body was a five-page letter threatening Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch politician who wrote the script to “Submission.”“Van Gogh killer jailed for life,” BBC News, July 26, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4716909.stm. The other note suggested that Bouyeri expected to be shot dead after the attack.Jason Burke, “The murder that shattered Holland’s liberal dream,” Guardian (London), November 7, 2004, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/07/terrorism.religion.

During his trial, Bouyeri brought a Koran to court and did not attempt to argue a defense.Francie Grace, “Van Gogh Slay Suspect Confesses,” CBS News, July 12, 2005, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/van-gogh-slay-suspect-confesses/;
“Van Gogh killer jailed for life,” BBC News, July 26, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4716909.stm.
At one point, he addressed van Gogh’s mother directly, telling her he did not feel her pain because she was a “nonbeliever,” and professed that he would commit such an attack again if given the chance.Francie Grace, “Van Gogh Slay Suspect Confesses,” CBS News, July 12, 2005, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/van-gogh-slay-suspect-confesses/. Bouyeri was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.Rebecca Leung, “Slaughter and ‘Submission,’” CBS News, March 13, 2005; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/slaughter-and-submission-11-03-2005/;
“Van Gogh killer jailed for life,” BBC News, July 26, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4716909.stm.

 
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