A Dutch politician who was forced into hiding after her film about Islam precipitated the murder last month of its director, Theo van Gogh, is to make a sequel.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, 35, a Somali-born feminist who settled in Holland after escaping an arranged marriage in 1992, has vowed not to soften her style for the new production.
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“The murder will not stop me from continuing with the project,” said Hirsi Ali, who wrote and narrated the 11-minute film Submission that was broadcast on Dutch television in August.
It showed Koranic verses ordering husbands to beat their wives being painted on the naked body of an actress. Scarred from beatings, the woman kneels on a prayer mat and questions her faith.
Although only intended to provoke debate it proved a death warrant for van Gogh. He was shot and stabbed to death by an Islamic extremist after a bicycle chase through an Amsterdam suburb.
The killing precipitated a wave of violence with at least 13 arson attacks on mosques, churches and Islamic schools across Holland. Attacks have now ceased, but sensitive locations were still under guard this weekend.
Critics fear Submission Part II could prove equally explosive. It is expected to highlight verses from the Koran that Hirsi Ali claims have been misused to prevent freedom of expression in Muslim societies.
Muslim groups have already condemned the film as blasphemous, in an echo of Islamic anger that greeted Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses in the late 1980s. Last week Muslim leaders began legal action to try to ban the sequel even before filming begins.
Mohammed Bouyeri, van Gogh’s alleged killer, is in custody but the fear of more assassinations has not diminished and four Dutch politicians are being protected by armed guards.
Concerns that Bouyeri may have had co-conspirators prompted police to show pictures of his face last week, with an appeal for information.
Millions switched on their televisions to see the man blamed for sending the nation into a spiral of religious conflict. Bouyeri, a former community worker with a beard and shaven head, appeared unrepentant and has refused to co-operate with interrogators.
Amid widespread agreement that more must be done to integrate Muslims across Europe, many politicians would be secretly relieved if Hirsi Ali were prevented from filming.
Friends say she has no intention of backing down, however, and she is also writing a handbook for Muslims entitled The Shortcut to Enlightenment. It should make explosive reading.
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