A controversial Dutch filmmaker accused by Muslims of ridiculing their religion has been stabbed and shot dead on his bicycle, shocking the Netherlands where the murder was denounced as an attack on free speech.
Theo van Gogh, a distant relative of 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, stirred controversy with newspaper articles, books and films voicing his contentious views on &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/18/90/364/10955_terrorism.html ' target=_blank>Islam after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Van Gogh, 47, was attacked near a park close to the centre of the Dutch capital in the morning on his way to work in what could be the second political killing in the country in two years after anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn was shot, Reuters informed.
"The freedom of speech is a foundation of our society and that foundation was tampered with today," &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/accidents/2002/03/11/26920.html ' target=_blank>Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen said, after the deafening noise had subsided.
"Theo van Gogh picked fights with many people, myself included, but that is a right in this country," he added to cheers from the crowd.
In his final column Van Gogh even likened Cohen, who is Jewish, to a collaborator with the Nazi regime at the time of the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, wrote Turkish Press.
According to the Globe and Mail, on Tuesday night, more than 10,000 people went to Amsterdam's central square for an emotional demonstration of support for Mr. Van Gogh and against violence. So many people came by bicycle that there were bike traffic jams.