Preliminary hearings have begun in a case that has profoundly shocked The Netherlands. A court in Amsterdam heard that the man accused of murdering controversial film-maker Theo van Gogh believed he was doing God’s will and expected to die a “martyr.” Mohammed Bouyeri, a 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan man, is thought to have belonged to a radical Islamic group, which investigators say could be linked to international terrorists.
Van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death on a street in Amsterdam in November. A note impaled in his chest threatened Dutch politicians and vowed Islamic holy war or “jihad” against non-believers. Bouyeri was arrested in a shoot-out with police minutes after van Gogh’s body was found. The director had criticised the treatment of women under Islam in a recent film – Submission. The murder threw the country into turmoil and triggered a violent anti-Muslim backlash. It also pushed the government into instituting far-reaching anti-terrorism laws.