Instead, many reporters chose the family angle: Krekar might be a bad guy, but what about his poor wife and kids? Repeatedly, the papers ran tearful close-ups of Krekar's wife and pictures of her and Krekar embracing. VG ran a whole story about the intelligence services' confiscation of her beloved cookbook, which had been in the family for generations and which contained the recipes of all of Krekar's favorite foods. Dagbladet, for its part, ran a report whose headline told us that when Krekar's kids heard on TV that Daddy had been released from custody and was headed home, they kissed the TV screen. It was Dagbladet, too, that published one of the great sob stories of all time. The headline: “My children are waiting every single day to hear from Papa.” The first sentences: “Mullah Krekar's wife (39) is scared. For her four children, and for the future.”
And so on. You get the idea. If you're trying to obscure the truth, defend the indefensible, and smear the good guys, go for sheer, unadulterated bathos. So it is that as the clock ticks down to the March 15 parliamentary elections in the Netherlands (which, as it happens, I write about in this week's National Review), Anna Holligan of the BBC – in an effort to paint Geert Wilders, head of the Freedom Party (PVV), as a racist hatemonger – kicked off a March 7 article from The Hague by focusing on one of the Dutch Moroccans whom Wilders, as she put it, had “accused...of making the streets unsafe.” Needless to say, Holligan didn't talk to one of the majority of Dutch Moroccan males who have dropped out of school and are living on social welfare benefits; nor did she buttonhole one of the nearly 50% of young Dutch Moroccan males who have rap sheets.
No: she talked to a young lady named Hafsa Mahraoui, who, in “trendy black trainers and matching hijab,” is “the quintessential image of modern Muslim woman.” (Yes, nothing says “modern” like a hijab.) Mahraoui, Holligan reported, thinks of herself as “a true Amsterdam girl.” But life has been tough for her lately: “the tone of the campaign” has brought her down. “They say Islam isn't normal, it doesn't belong in Dutch society, and that being hijabi means I am an oppressed person,” Mahraoui lamented. “It's tiring because we are always in the spotlight and you have to defend yourself.” As if all this weren't terrible enough, Mahraoui complained – and she clearly meant this to be understood as an example of the way Dutch people treat Muslims – that her headscarf had been “ripped off just after the murder of the film-maker Theo van Gogh.” Supposedly, the memory still makes her shudder. Not the memory of the murder, mind you: the memory – the more than twelve-year-old memory – of having her headscarf yanked off.
Thus does the murder of Theo van Gogh become a passing reference in a story news about Dutch people purportedly making life tough for Muslims.
Never mind the murder itself, which happened on a busy Amsterdam street and was committed by one Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-born man of Moroccan parentage who, before the murder, had been considered by friends and acquaintances to be a fully integrated member of Dutch society. (Indeed, he might well have described himself as “a true Amsterdam boy.”) Yes, it's regrettable that somebody (allegedly) yanked off Mahraoui's headscarf. But it's quite a bit more regrettable that, simply because Theo van Gogh had released a short film drawing attention to the systematic oppression and brutal abuse of women under Islam, Bouyeri, who had been born and bred in the Netherlands, was moved to shoot him eight times, slit his throat in an attempt to decapitate him, stab him in the chest, and then use a second knife to pin to his chest an open letter addressed to van Gogh's film collaborator, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The letter praised Allah and Muhammed, quoted extensively from the Koran, and concluded: “I know for sure, O America, you will go down. I know for sure, O Europe, you will go down. I know for sure, O Holland, you will go down. I know for sure, O Hirsi Ali, you will go down. I know for sure, O unbelieving fundamentalist, you will go down.”
It is the murder of Theo van Gogh, and not some random act of hijab-pulling, that is the ultimate emblematic act of the Netherlands in our time. But you'd never know it to read the BBC or other major Western media.
If Holligan had been more honest – and braver – she wouldn't have presented, as if it were unassailable truth, Hafsa Mahraouri's view of Dutch people as hijab-pulling bigots and of Dutch Moroccans as innocent victims of their prejudice. She would instead – or, at least, in addition – have spoken with somebody like 57-year-old Salman Ezzammoury, a Muslim apostate who immigrated to the Netherlands from Morocco at the age of 23 and who, in a recent interview, painted a picture of the Dutch that is the exact opposite of Hafsa's. Ezzammoury considers the Netherlands prachtig – a word that can be translated as “splendid,” “magnificent,” “exquisite,” “wonderful” – and regards the Dutch as “tolerant and kind.” The only people in his orbit who aren't tolerant and kind are – guess who? – his Muslim neighbors. Raised (as he puts it) to see all non-Muslims as enemies who must be killed, Dutch Muslims deliberately isolate themselves from Dutch society – while the Dutch, in their naivete, provide them every opportunity to spread their “evil” ideas. What does Ezzammoury think of Geert Wilders? Well, said Ezzamoury, “he shouts a little too much,” and he's a conservative, whereas Ezzammoury himself is a man of the left – but at bottom, he pronounced, he and Wilders share “the selfsame ideology.”
So who interviewed this courageous gentleman, this former Muslim who's knowledgeable – and refreshingly forthright – about both Islam and the Dutch? The New York Times? The Guardian? CNN? Guess again: his interview appeared in a local newspaper in Barneveld, a town of 30,000 in the largely rural province of Gelderland. Laurent Obertone made the point about his own country, France, in his 2013 book La France Orange Mécanique, and it holds true for many other countries as well, the Netherlands included: when you want to know the facts about the dread impact of Islam on the West, don't bother looking in major national media; go to the regional press, where obscure, underpaid reporters who don't belong to the politically correct elite will give you glimpses of the truth that their big-time, big-city colleagues – people like the BBC's Anna Holligan – do their best to keep out of the public eye.