The day democracy died
Oh dear, a maths student trying to write an entry about politics. Again! Do not worry, this is just my attempt of translating Mohammed B.'s last word into English. B. has been convicted of murdering Theo van Gogh, a Dutch film maker, 2nd November last year. It was the second political murder in a short time in the Netherlands, and was followed by many threats to key political figures. As B. is not seeking to fight the conviction, the media have been allowed to broadcast his last word. For anyone trying to understand terrorism, this should be a good read (despite possible Dutchisms). Any suggestions welcome.
This is how the article appeared in De Volkskrant online, today. It can be found in Dutch here
Mohammed B.: 'Wow.'
Judge: 'Excuse me?'
B.: 'I said "wow". You have written well. You enable me to say something. You are not going to interrupt me. And I can be critical.'
Judge: 'You are allowed to say what you wish.'
B. starts in Arab.
Judge: 'I will have to interrupt you here, however. To ask the interpreter to translate.'
Interpreter: 'This is a usual text to start with. He says: "I wish to thank Allah. I ask Allah for help with the words I am going to speak. I testify there is no other God than Allah."'
B., in Dutch: 'Long have I deliberated whether or not I should say something. Before I say more, I would like to comment on what has been said about the two faces. I assume it referred to the defence, Mr Plasman and Mr Sarikaya, here behind me. (The judge had challenged the defence accusing them of using hard words defending their client in the media, but refraining from defending him with such conviction in court, red. De Volkskrant) I think and I believe they don't deserve it that you attack them as such. Despite the fact that the gentlemen know that I despise their disbelief (or lack of faith, T) with all my soul, they do their job with conviction. In eight, nine months they have been two of very few people of whom I believe they act with conviction. You can't say that of a lot of people.'
'The reason I speak now, is not because I feel compelled by this court to say something. The only person I might be compelled by, is the mother of Mr Van Gogh. In all honesty I must confess I do not feel compassion. I do not feel your pain. I can't. I don't know how it is to lose a child that you have raised in this world with so much pain and so many tears. Partly because I'm not a woman. Partly, I cannot feel compassion because you are an infidel. You cannot, should not hold me accountable for that.'
'I know that my behaviour, my attitude yesterday and today, is very confrontational to you. And to many more here. And many people know they are not just watching a suspect, and battling a suspect, but they are battling their own emotions.'
'Concerning the charges: I can completely agree what the public prosecutor has said. Largely, that is. I take full responsibility. You have characterized what would have driven me to my act. I am purely driven by my faith.'
'It would indeed be cowardice if I would hide myself here behind the rules by holding my silence. I also do not wish to avoid the chance to receive the highest punishment. With this I immediately point out the weakness of this system. I do not recognize your judicial system. Possibly you do not recognize mine either.'
'I understood that Mrs Van Gogh might find some peace if maximum punishment is given and in the fact that I received maximum punishment, that is what I understood.'
'Concerning your advisor, Mr Peters (professor in Islamic law, red. De Volkskrant): he has indicated that indeed I posess texts preaching violence. He also says there are texts that preach peace. But you haven't asked Peters when peace is preached and when violence. You neglected that.'
'I am not going to talk about politics or give a religious flavour to my speech, I am not here to make a political statement, or a political statement flavoured by religion, I'll save you from that. But I do want you to know that I acted with conviction. It's not because I hate your son Theo van Gogh that much, nor because he is Dutch or because I feel insulted being Moroccan. I have never felt insulted.'
'I can never suspect your son of hypocrisy. He was no hypocrite. He spoke with conviction. I know he said things with conviction.'
(B. stays silent for a while)
'So the main story saying I would have been insulted for being a Moroccan and him calling us goat fuckers, is completely false. I acted from faith. If it were my father or brother, I would have done the same. You cannot suspect me of having any sentiment.'
'The question this court holds: a maximum punishment, but the suspect gives no insight into his state of mind. But I can assure you: if ever I'd be released, I would do exactly the same. Exactly the same. You thought I might feel trapped. I don't feel trapped by walls or a cell. I'll tell you: I feel free and I am free. Furthermore, concerning your criticism: maybe you mean muslims when you say Moroccans. I won't hold that against you. The same law that tells me to cut off everyone's head who insults Allah and the prophet, that same law tells me not to settle in a land where, using the words of the prosecutor, the "free word" is being preached.'
'But what is it then? I'll tell you, your criticism… This is judicially valid only if there exists a land where people like me can go in exile. That you stop a man like me, I won't hold it against you, it's your job.'
(Mohammed B. looks back at the police officers sitting in the back of the room)
'And I think that those officers confronted with me on the second of November (the day B. killed Van Gogh, T) also have a right to know that I didn't shoot to get away, but I shot to kill. And to be killed.'
'You can send all your psychologists, psychiatrists, and counsellors to analyse me, but I shall tell you, you will never understand. You cannot understand. If I am released, and I would have the opportunity to do again what I did on 2nd November, wallah (with Allah, De Volkskrant), I would have done exactly the same.'
Judge: 'That is what you wanted to tell us?'
B.: 'Maybe, ya know… I am not here to be pathetic or to criticise. Maybe this could be a little consolidation to Mrs Van Gogh. Apart from that I couldn't care less, to be fair.'