Morocco defiantly rejects Van Gogh guilt
17 December 2004, AMSTERDAM — The Moroccan government has defiantly asserted its innocence in the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh last month, claiming that despite the fact the suspect is a dual national living in the Netherlands, the killing was purely a Dutch matter.
17 December 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Moroccan government has defiantly asserted its innocence in the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh last month, claiming that despite the fact the suspect is a dual national living in the Netherlands, the killing was purely a Dutch matter.
Moroccan government ministers outlined their public stance in regards the murder for the first time on Thursday. Culture Minister Mohamed Achaari also pointed out that the suspected killer, Mohammed B., was born and raised in the Netherlands.
During a visit to Amsterdam, the minister said the fact that the 26-year-old B. also had the Moroccan nationality did not indicate that Morocco was responsible for the assassination. The killing sparked a wave of retaliatory violence targeted against mosques and churches across the country.
Van Gogh was shot and stabbed in Amsterdam on 2 November soon after making the controversial film "Submission", which was loudly critical of domestic violence in the Islamic community. B. is alleged to have had contact with suspected Islamic militants prior to the murder.
Minister Achaari asserted that a social climate had developed in the Netherlands in which Morocco was being held partly responsible for fundamentalism among Moroccans living in the Netherlands.
But he also said Morocco was jointly combating terrorism alongside the Dutch. "We were confronted with terror earlier, almost two years ago our country was alarmed by attacks," he said, referring to the Casablanca bombings in May 2003 in which 45 people were killed.
Achaari — who was in the Netherlands to open the exhibition, "Morocco, 5,000 Years of Culture", in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam — also criticised statements from former Dutch European competition commissioner Frits Bolkestein and Liberal VVD MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Bolkestein recently requested Moroccan King Mohammed VI to urge Dutch Moroccan youths to keep the peace after the murder of Van Gogh. He also claimed Morocco was "a producer of murderers".
For her part, Hirsi Ali has been sharply critical of the Islamic faith for some time for its oppression of women, having co-produced "Submission" with Van Gogh. She has been in hiding since Van Gogh's murder due to threats on her life.
But Achaari rounded on both politicians, particularly the comments from Bolkestein, claiming they were testimony to "stupidity". He added further: "I can use hard language just like these politicians and say that the statements are racist".
"The [alleged] murderer of Van Gogh is Dutch. Of Moroccan ancestry yes, but he could have been from any ethnic group. Morocco does not produce murderers."
Meanwhile in Morocco, Justice Minister Mohamed Bouzoubaa also rejected accusations that the North African nation was a source of "terrorist acts" in the Netherlands. He said individuals suspected by Dutch authorities of engaging in terrorism not only have dual nationality, but in some cases were born in the Netherlands.
"This obligates me to approach the "Moroccanness" of terrorist acts in the Netherlands with great reservation," Bouzoubaa said.
[Copyright Expatica News + Novum Nieuws 2004]
Subject: Dutch news