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* Important precedents for the van Gogh murder

Reader comment on item: [Theo van Gogh and] "Education By Murder" in Holland

Submitted by Yorumcu (United Kingdom), Nov 19, 2004 at 12:55

There is one place where precedents for the van Gogh killing can be found--Turkey. Western observers take little notice of it, but during the 1980s and 1990's, a string of leading Turkish secularist journalists, politicians, and academics were murdered apparently by Islamic groups to knock out influential figures. (Islamic groups claim the murders were the work of secularists to discredit them.)

The victims included a Bahriye Ucok, woman politician, Ahmet Taner Kislali, a former minister, Cetin Emec of the daily Hurriyet, Ugur Mumcu, the leading voice on the centre left and Turan Dursun, and Onat Kutlar. The killings usually involved use of C4 and there are indications that an Islamic government in another country was probably involved.

But there is an earlier precedent for 'ritual beheading' of an infidel. In 1930, a dervish called Mehmet attacked a Turkish army officer in a riot at Menemen and beheaded him in the cause of theocratic rule.

If the Turkish precedent is anything to go by, Theo van Gogh could be the first in a long line of victims in western Europe. Rather than resort to kneejerk "Islamophobia", maybe western opinion should focus on defending secularism and religious moderation in Turkey and realise the relevance of Ataturk's separation of religion and politics to the world we live in today.
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