Why we shouldn’t support vigilante actions

I’m sure most of you have heard that an obscure Dutch film-maker, Theo Van Gogh, was murdered earlier this week. He was killed by a person of Dutch citizenship and Moroccan ancestry, who is said to have links with extremist groups which were being monitored by the police. I, for one, won’t be mourning Van Gogh’s passing - his film was calculated to insult Islam and offend Muslims, and possibly stir up hostility to Muslims. He made it in collaboration with the notorious apostate, Ayan Hirsi Ali, who has police protection (which TVG refused). The question is whether this attack was justified in Islamic law, as well as whether it will serve the interests of Muslims.

And the answer is no, on both counts. The Muslims in the Netherlands (including this assassin) are immigrants, who moved there knowing that the country is not a Muslim country, and that Shari’ah law is not in force there. Muslims are not in a position to enforce the Shari’ah penalties on Muslims in the Netherlands, let alone non-Muslims. As I have pointed out here before, even groups like al-Muhajiroun insist that Muslims (at least, Muslim immigrants) must not use violence in the west, due to the amaana under which they, or their ancestors, came here. I could understand someone acting this way if this man was actually threatening the lives of Muslims, but he was not.

On top of this, the attack has in fact increased the fame of this vile film-maker. It reminds me of a song I once heard being sung by Richard Thompson:

Now that I am dead my agent finally said he wanted to have lunch with me

Now that I’m deceased my record sales increased I’m making lots of royalties

I’m a composer decomposing I’m on the rocker’s roll of fame My songs the critics are praising Yes, they even learned to spell my name.

The fact is, I didn’t hear of this guy until he was murdered. The fact is that the Dutch-speaking world is not that big; it consists of a country and a bit (not including South Africa, as Afrikaans has moved a long way from Dutch). People called him the Michael Moore of the Netherlands, but as unscrupulous as Michael Moore is said to be in some quarters, he does not trade in insults to people’s religion. No doubt his films will be translated and we will hear more of him, which otherwise, we wouldn’t have.

Let this be a lesson to would-be vigilantes everywhere.

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