A political assassination
May 6, 2002 9:34 AM   Subscribe

A political assassination on the controversial right winger Pim Fortuijn is reported in The Netherlands. Reports differ about the question if he has survived.
posted by tsja (31 comments total)
The assassination took place outside the buildings of Dutch Radio. He has been lying there for an half hour before an ambulance took him away.

Elections are planned to take place in nine days. According to the latest polls, Fortuijn has a chance to win the elections.
posted by tsja at 9:41 AM on May 6, 2002

posted by nonharmful at 9:53 AM on May 6, 2002

According to an eyewitness, Pim Fortuijn has died.
posted by tsja at 10:00 AM on May 6, 2002

um, that was implied by the word 'assassination'.
posted by quonsar at 10:03 AM on May 6, 2002

See, now I thought "Reports differ about the question if he has survived" might have implied the poster wasn't sure if he was dead and was now following up.
posted by yerfatma at 10:08 AM on May 6, 2002

Damn. He was not an extremist... not really. This is so crazy...
posted by Icestorm at 10:40 AM on May 6, 2002

Fortuyn had recently expressed fears for his safety. A few weeks ago, protesters threw two cream pies laced with urine in his face.

Europe loves freedom of speech. . .you just have to remember to be careful what you say.
posted by nobody_knose at 11:42 AM on May 6, 2002

nobody_knose: Just when you're speaking out against the liberal elite and Islamist terrorists. Then you're an "extremist" and "far-right".

If you vote marxist or stalinist, like 30% of the French who bothered to go to the polls, you're an "idealist".
posted by dagny at 11:48 AM on May 6, 2002

BBC had an article yesterday.
posted by revbrian at 11:54 AM on May 6, 2002

I was flabberghasted when I heard. It never even occurred to me that something like this might happen in The Netherlands.

I worked at the Media Park up until November 2001. They beefed up security after Sept. 11 but it seemed more of a band-aid than anything. Mainly checks of credentials at the gate. There are sturdy fences with sharp spikes at the top but nothing that would keep a determined assailant out.

I think this is a terrible thing to happen to Dutch democracy. I wasn't too keen on a Fortuyn Prime Ministership or a Government with a strong List Party influence but far better that than this.

And, of course, I'm pretty sure the List Party will come out of this even stronger and with much greater public sympathy. And if the shooter turns out to be a Muslim immigrant? People often take the misguided actions of the one member of an unfamiliar minority to be representative of the group as a whole.

All in all: ick.
posted by rocketpup at 1:03 PM on May 6, 2002

yerfatma: no, "reports differ about the question if he has survived" is just a ridiculous thing to say after claiming he has been assassinated. those who are assassinated are dead.
posted by quonsar at 1:04 PM on May 6, 2002

quonsar, lay off. The first wire story I read started out noting he had died and continued with text written earlier that detailed his political status in the present tense.

My sympathies to the Dutch here and in the blogworld; this must be terribly shocking.
posted by dhartung at 1:26 PM on May 6, 2002

I've had a brief exchange of e-mail with a blog-friend in The Netherlands since this news broke, and she says the whole country is simply stunned but that the elections will, in all likelihood, still take place without delay. One wonders if this will work in favor of his party, even without Fortuyn to become prime minister.

As rocketpup says, it's so hard to imagine this sort of thing happening in a place like The Netherlands. Some backwater Latin American banana republic, sure, but not in Western Europe.
posted by briank at 1:37 PM on May 6, 2002

quonsar, I understood your objection. My thought was that the poster, being from The Netherlands, might not be as wonderfully versed in English as you.
posted by yerfatma at 1:51 PM on May 6, 2002

Some backwater Latin American banana republic, sure, but not in Western Europe.

Here's a provocative rant claiming that Europe should get full credit for the "ugliness" of its society in the light of recent events (versus the idea that it's an import). No one here will agree with more than 50% of what Mark Steyn says there, but this Netherlands assassination is exactly the kind of thing he was talking about, and it's very much worth reading. Even if you disagree, you're guaranteed to enjoy the article if you get irked by bullshit elitist European anti-Americanism. [via Arts & Letters Daily, which now has the Fortuyn assassination grafted on to the same link]
posted by Zurishaddai at 2:09 PM on May 6, 2002

Hmm.. what about all of those so-called democracy-loving softy-lefties who came out with crap like 'Le Pen should just die!' or 'I wish Le Pen were dead'? It's a good day for them and their form of 'democracy'. Le Pen may well be next.
posted by wackybrit at 2:17 PM on May 6, 2002

dagny, check your facts. Fortuyn wasn't 'speaking up against the liberal elite and Islamic terrorists'; he was in favour of closing the borders of the Netherlands to Muslim immigrants, and penalising those who had 'failed to assimilate'. Still, this is utterly awful: say what you like about the French (and I'm sure lots of you won't stop) but at least they went through the ballot and not the bullet.

And A&L Daily appears to have turned into a warblog on the sly: its choice of editorials has a lean like Quasimodo's, and the nice typography doesn't excuse heralding the usual squawking heads of the Conrad Black stable to the expense of all others.
posted by riviera at 2:18 PM on May 6, 2002

P.S. The current BBC story has the most details I could find about the circumstances & investigation:
The reporter said four people chased the gunman, who apparently fired in their direction.
One unconfirmed report said that a suspect had been detained.
But the BBC's Geraldine Coughlan in The Hague says it would have been difficult to gain access to the media park, where several TV and radio studios are located, without going through tight identity and security checks.

posted by Zurishaddai at 2:18 PM on May 6, 2002

Yes, Zurishaddai, it's interesting how Europeans tar America with the sins of slavery yet expect a pass for the much more recent horrors of their Nazis and Soviets.

The reality is that America is the longest running, most successful example of an open and pluralistic society the world has ever seen, and quite likely ever will.
posted by nobody_knose at 2:24 PM on May 6, 2002

Being Dutch, I am deeply shocked and very concerned about the future of Holland. This has shaken the very foundations of Dutch society. All though I didn't agree with most of Fortuyn's ideas, I must admire the courage he had to stand up for his believes and to challenge the political establishment. The fact that he had to pay the highest price for doing so, is very sad to say the least. This is a very dark day for all Dutch people who value democracy and freedom of speech.

As for quonsar: you're right. Those who are assassinated are dead. Now f*** off. Remember 9/11? That's how we feel now. Which reminds me, maybe you can find some spelling mistakes here.
posted by Taco at 2:37 PM on May 6, 2002

It's been confirmed that one suspect has been arrested. He's a white, dutch male. There've been small-scale riots near the dutch parliament. Parties are halting all campaigns for the elections. Influential politicians are asking for an emergency-law to be able to postpone them.
As a dutch person with deep doubts about the potential effects of having a demagogue such as this in parliament, or even (as was increasingly possible) as prime minister, I'd become fond of the effect Fortuyn had on the discussion about how to implement a more effective democracy in Holland.
All in all: I don't at the moment give much of a shit about the question whether America is a pluralistic society or not.
posted by disso at 2:37 PM on May 6, 2002

say what you like about the French (and I'm sure lots of you won't stop) but at least they went through the ballot and not the bullet.

I sincerely hope you're right about this, and that the opposition to Le Pen remains political and intellectual rather than with the bullet. I'm afraid this hideous act against Fortuyn sets a dangerous precedent. As much as I disagree with most of Pen's positions, his death would be just as terrible as Fortuyn's.

While I didn't agree with certain of Fortuyn's ideas, I have to agree with his opposition to the homophobia and sexism that flourishes in fundamentalist Islam. If one emigrates to an ultra-liberal country such as the Netherlands, I don't think it is too much to expect one to assimilate certain of those cultural norms, or at least to respect them. I think his opposition to continued immigration, and the isolationism of immigrant communities, was based on these ideas more than on xenophobia or anti-Arab sentiments. Unfortunately Fortuyn's message, regardless of his intentions, played too easily into the hands of racists and extreme isolationists, which I think prompted his largely erroneous comparison to Le Pen. On the other hand, Fortuyn's murder may have nothing to do with his philosophies about immigration; it could just as easily be the work of some homophobic rightist.

And remember that anti-Americanism is not the sole province of European leftists. Le Pen has been a serious trafficker in it as well.
posted by evanizer at 2:51 PM on May 6, 2002

No one's yet mentioned that Pim was gay, which could be as much a possible motive for his assassination as his stridently anti-Muslim speeches. From the BBC obit: "The shaven-headed former academic and columnist was openly gay, distinguishing him from the bulk of Europe's far-right, traditionalist politicians...He used his sexuality as fuel for his fire against Islam, which - like many other religions - does not accept homosexuality."

He was not an extremist... not really.

Well, you may know him better than I do, Icestorm, but calling all of Islam a "backward culture" is hardly what I'd call a mainstream approach to political discourse.
posted by mediareport at 3:07 PM on May 6, 2002

Thanks, evanizer: good comments. I suppose the true test of a healthy, mature democracy is whether it can accommodate elements that might appear contrary to whatever you consider the presiding mood of the state, and that should make room both for the 'unassimilated' of Fortuyn's own party, and of those it criticised, providing each side respects the democratic institutions. That's why Fortuyn was something of a phenomenon, I suppose, in Dutch politics, as he presented Islam as incompatible with liberal, tolerant Dutchness, whatever that's supposed to mean: that kind of paradox actually reminds me of the movement against Islamic fundamentalism in Turkish politics over the past decade or so...
posted by riviera at 3:32 PM on May 6, 2002

As a Brit, I have to say that this has stunned me more than news of Princess Di's death. I couldn't really give much of a shit about the overpriviliged one's passing, but this guy was killed for nothing more than his beliefs and his willingness to stand on a platform and repeat them.

Sheesh. Hope the Netherlands comes through this unscathed.
posted by hmgovt at 3:37 PM on May 6, 2002

If one emigrates to an ultra-liberal country such as the Netherlands, I don't think it is too much to expect one to assimilate certain of those cultural norms, or at least to respect them.

We must abide by their rules when we go to their countries, so they must abide by ours when they're here. If they don't want to do that, they can bog off, but if they want to come here and be a useful part of society, they can stay.

How comes I can't permanently go and live in the US without having $500,000 to invest a 'community center'.. yet Kosovans can come and live in the UK? It reeks of corruption.
posted by wackybrit at 5:29 PM on May 6, 2002

If the UK were to suffer the fate of Kosovo, then you could pocket your 'investment', wackybrit: I presume that you'll now be desparate to start a civil war in order to formulate a decent claim for political asylum? If not, then you've got fuck-all to complain about. I suspect you don't trace your ancestry through a pure lineage to the ancient Britons, and I also suspect that your immigrant ancestors didn't mutely 'assimilate' themselves either.
posted by riviera at 6:25 PM on May 6, 2002

For the NRO corner... Here is Pim Fortuyn's official policy on Muslim immigrants and others who don't conform to Dutch social standards:

"Large groups in the community are lagging behind in social and cultural terms. These groups often originate from countries which did not participate in the Judeo-Christian-humanist developments which have been taking place in Europe for centuries.

These shortfalls in development are highly regrettable, as they result in a divide in society and form a threat to the functioning of our large cities. This must be tackled vigorously, on the one hand by paying extra attention to housing, schools and cultural education for these groups, but on the other by requiring these groups to make a maximum effort themselves. Cultural developments which are diametrically opposed to the desired integration and emancipation, such as arranged marriages, honour revenge and female circumcision, must be fought by means of legislation and public information.

Discrimination against women in fundamentalist Islamic circles is particularly unacceptable. In a democratic society like ours, all citizens have the same rights and obligations, irrespective of race, gender, beliefs and nature. There is a division of Church and State in the Netherlands, and therefore also of mosque and state. Thanks to the division of powers (the executive, legislative and judiciary powers), citizens can develop themselves in relative freedom. Our hard-fought freedoms are worth protecting against increasing fundamentalism.

We must carry out a study into whether the introduction of a social and military service for boys and girls of eighteen years of age or older can contribute to integration."
posted by revbrian at 6:25 PM on May 6, 2002

riviera: I actually believe in open borders. If you can afford to live somewhere, you should be able to. Unfortunately the world doesn't work like that. Immigrants have made many countries great, but nowadays immigration is frowned upon.. try getting into the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France or Japan if you're a Westerner who wants a change of scenery.

If not, then you've got fuck-all to complain about.

All I'm saying is that immigration practices are inherently unfair. If someone wants to live in a country backed by their own money, they should be allowed to. When God made the planet, he didn't tell everyone to keep their own little section under lock and key.. why shouldn't I be able to move around it as I see fit as long as I don't tread on the toes of others?Political asylum is a good thing, but what about those who just want to go live someplace else? The system is kinda rigged against them unless they're rich.

I suspect you don't trace your ancestry through a pure lineage to the ancient Britons, and I also suspect that your immigrant ancestors didn't mutely 'assimilate' themselves either.

No. I don't. My family is 99% English until about 1600 though, and its believed we're mostly of Nordic heritage. Yet, that still gives me no right to go and become a citizen of Norway ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 7:38 PM on May 6, 2002

This is criminal and very sad.

Holland is a vibrant democracy; it has suffered courageously for its ideals (which we share); it's a reliable and ancient friend of the Anglosphere; and it possesses a refined and beautiful culture.

My tribute and best wishes to Dutchmen everywhere, and to Fortuyn's family & friends. RIP Pym Fortuyn.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 9:58 PM on May 6, 2002

As rocketpup says, it's so hard to imagine this sort of thing happening in a place like The Netherlands. Some backwater Latin American banana republic, sure, but not in Western Europe.

In 1986 the Swedish PM Olof Palme was assassinated (sixteen years later we still don't know why). Two German politicians nearly got shot in 1990 as well, so western Europe's by no means immune.

Anyway... as sad as I am that Fortuyn was essentially killed for his beliefs, I'm still worried about how many voters might rally around the List given the emotional impact of his assassination. Fortuyn was extremely skilled at presenting a radical, sharp, go-getting picture to the media, something he had in common with Joerg Haider of Austria. I'm not making a one-to-one link between their policies, but it's worth noting their electoral campaigns did both depend in part on insecurity regarding immigration, and both men were taking on a group of political parties which had shared power comfortably between themselves for several decades.

He was also enough of a strategist to find a spin on the typical Euro-far-right message that would connect with the self-image of the Dutch electorate. It's precisely because tolerance is a value the people of the Netherlands take such pride in that Fortuyn's suspicions about Islam found such fertile ground. Hell, I've had to keep reminding myself his politics are xenophobic and divisive, and I couldn't vote for him even if I was able to. It's quite possibly the most insiduous variety of extreme right rhetoric yet, because it can draw in people whose politics would never ordinarily lead them towards that kind of movement.

(And I'm afraid I still can't help but think he reminds me of Professor Charles Xavier...)
posted by CatherineB at 9:33 AM on May 7, 2002

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