Theo van Gogh, 47, was repeatedly shot and stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street on Tuesday.
“Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Have mercy. Have mercy!” the Algemeen Dagblad quoted Van Gogh as begging his killer.
Another Dutch newspaper, the Telegraaf daily, carried a large color photograph of Van Gogh’s body with a knife protruding from his chest under the headline “Butchered.”
“We’re not going to take this,” the Dagblad said.
The paper said the killer shot Van Gogh eight or nine times, then calmly bent over his victim and slit his throat with a knife.
A police officer was slightly injured in the shooting.
Police arrested a 26-year-old man with dual Moroccan-Dutch citizenship. His name was not released.
The suspect was allegedly the friend of Samir Azzouz, an 18-year-old Muslim of Moroccan origin who is awaiting trial on charges of planning a terrorist attack on targets including a nuclear reactor and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, NOS Dutch television reported.
He “acted out of radical Islamic fundamentalist convictions,” and claimed to have had contacts with a group that was under surveillance by the Dutch secret service.
The government held late night crisis meetings and the Immigration Minister met with Muslim groups to discuss how to avoid violent confrontations with the Muslim community.
The film by Van Gogh, the great-grandson of painter Vincent Van Gogh’s brother, was aired in August on Dutch television, drawing the ire of some Muslims.
Dutch Muslim groups condemned the killing and called for reconciliation. They expressed fears of possible reprisals against Muslims.
Around 20,000 people poured onto Amsterdam’s central square in an emotional demonstration of support for Van Gogh and against violence.
The crowd blew horns, whistles and banged pots and pans.
“We won’t gather for a moment of silence, but to say loud and clear: freedom of expression is dear to us, and it must continue,” the city’s mayor Job Cohen said.
An award-winning filmmaker, television producer and newspaper columnist, Van Gogh was a controversial figure. He once mocked a prominent Dutch Jew, referred to Jesus as “the rotten fish” of Nazareth and called a radical Muslim politician “Allah’s pimp.”
His murder came at a time of increased tensions in the Netherlands, where many blame violent crime on the Muslim minority, mainly made up of immigrants. Muslims, in turn, say new anti-immigration and anti-terrorism discriminate against them.
Police said Van Gogh was shot twice as he biked along an Amsterdam street. The assailant then shot him several more times at close range before stabbing him and placing a note on his body.
The killing instantly recalled the assassination of anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn, who was killed in 2002 by an animal rights activist.
“This has to end, once and for all,” said 20-year-old student Orinta van Lent at the demonstration. “You cannot just kill people on the street in a brutal way when you disagree with them.”