Help the refugees

If you move around the world by choice, consider helping those forced from their homes by conflict. Donate to the UN Refugee Agency today.

Home Dutch News Not afraid to speak his mind

Not afraid to speak his mind

Published on 02/11/2004

2 November 2004

AMSTERDAM — Theo van Gogh, who was shot and killed in Amsterdam on Tuesday, was an unusual Dutch celebrity.

He was overweight, untidy and smoked incessantly. He was also very outspoken and got into arguments easily and quickly.

He liked to shock and had been sacked by at least one newspaper for writing provocative columns.

Claiming to be a distant relative of painter Vincent van Gogh, the filmmaker described himself as an “old reactionary”. Most sections of the community —  including the Dutch royal family — felt his ire at one time or another.

Using his right to freedom of speech, he fumed against multiculturalism and what he saw as the hypocritical nature and repressiveness of Muslim beliefs. 

He wrote a book entitled Allah weet het beter (Allah Knows Best) to espouse his views.  The cover photograph featured Van Gogh, in irreverent style, wearing a black and white PLO-type headscarf.

On his own website ‘De Gezonde Roker’ or the Healthy Smoker (also found at, Van Gogh repeatedly warned that multiculturalism needed to be challenged to prevent Dutch society suffering the sectarianism that has troubled Belfast in Northern Ireland for decades.

Van Gogh was also a dedicated film-maker. He was born in The Hague and grew up in the nearby district of Wassenaar.

He started law studies, but his academic career ended when he scored a breakthrough with his first movie Luger in 1981. He won the Dutch Gouden Kalf prize for his films Blind Date and In het belang van de staat (In the Interest of the State), in 1996 and 1997 respectively. 

More recently, he had made a film about the assassination of politician Pim Fortuyn ( The film will premiere on the internet via Tiscali on 15 December.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news + Theo van Gogh