July 12, 2005

Mohammed Bouyeri has confessed to killing Theo van Gogh.

BBC reports:
Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, said he acted out of his religious beliefs and that he would do "exactly the same" if he were ever set free.

Prosecutors say Mr Bouyeri killed Mr Van Gogh in a ritualistic murder committed in the name of radical Islam.....

"I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion," he told the court in Amsterdam.

"I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do exactly the same, exactly the same," he added.
Purity! How dismal to fixate on one's own purity! How perverse to imagine that you could advance yourself in God's eyes by purifying yourself through killing someone you've judged impure. How can it never cross your mind that you might have made a mistake in your analysis, and why is it not horrible arrogance to proclaim that you are sure you know what God wants? What makes people think God wants purity, let alone to go on and imagine that a bloody stabbing is a pure thing?


Uncle Jimbo said...

I think there is a new understanding coming around regarding whether it is our actions that cause Islamism and the jihadis. For long it has been accepted by far too many that they act in response to our presence in the middle east. Unfortunately they have a much larger agenda, and it involves Sharia law for everyone.

What size burka do you wear Ann? I already took my wife shopping for hers.

My take is here

Do they really not understand who we are fighting?


Uncle J

NotClauswitz said...

Ritual Purity is also behind the whole Caste-thing that stratifies society in India, and is the major driver for various food-prohibitions among believers of other major religions. Not-eating pork isn't about trichinosis any more than the 2nd Amendment is about hunting or the National Guard.
There is also quite a hint of Ritual Purity in the Senate, in association with Patriotism and the questioning thereof - draping the flag about the shoulders is an act Purification.
The evidence is in the anger and defensive posture taken up by those who disclaim any questioning of that-their Purity.

Ron said...

The bigotry, hatred and prejudice come first, and the religion is bent and twisted to conform to the answer that the hater has already constructed...but then you give credit to "God," so you don't look "impious."

Akiva said...

Dirt, get real, wake up and smell the hummas.

These people are taking your dollars you spend on gasoline and investing it in modifying their cultural system to it's absolute most extreme model, Wahabi-ism. Every single mosque funded by the Saudi's is teaching exactly what this man did. And they're teaching it in Amsterdam, London, New York City, Washington, everywhere.

Does a death and murder cult get a free pass under freedom of religion? Would it be ok if I funded Christian colleges to train the next generation of Crusaders, formal training to put non-Christians who wouldn't convert to the sword?

That's what's been going on in Islam for 15 years already.

Yes indeed, Bouyeri is convinced, he's been raised that way since childhood, taught it systematically since kindergarden, and preached it daily.

He's as fully committed to his religion as I am to mine. But mine doesn't teach me to kill for the faith, his does.

We are fighting what is now, after 15 years of maximum funding, if not mainstream Islam a significant powerful force within it. And Western societies are not prepared to deal with it, a religious enemy within.

NotClauswitz said...

I'm just saying that Ritual Purity is a significant factor in a number of socio-religious constructs, I did not intend to be dismissive of the harsh radicalization effect it has among certain, particular, and close-minded Moslems.

P_J said...


I know it's terribly un-PC to say, but that concern for purity is at the very heart of Islam. It doesn't always take a violent turn, but Islam is about following the rules to please a God who is very concerned about purity. Christianity has a long history of getting it wrong in many ways, but at its core there has always been the message of God's free and undeserved love mediated through the self-giving of his own son. That is not the central message of Islam. You are assuming things about the nature of God, the purpose of religion, and the role of the worshipper that a Muslim would not.

Uncle Jimbo said...

Pastor Jeff,

I don't think she assumed anything. She reacted to what the jihadis and their excusers are saying out loud. The voices of the "moderate" Muslims we always hear about are the ones who should be saying what Ann did.


Uncle J

P_J said...

Uncle J,

The questions Ann asks are perfectly reasonable, but are based on assumed values inherent to a liberal, western mindset - ones that, for the most part, would be alien to non-westernized Muslims.

Ann Althouse said...

Pastor Jeff: I believe I am only asking questions that a human being with a mind would ask. Aside from persons with mental disabilities, anyone who thinks should ask questions like this. I don't think being nonWestern impairs reason. I can believe there a people too intimidated or too angry to criticize out loud.

goesh said...

you betcha', there ain't much reasoning to be had with jihadis that saw off heads with dull knives while chanting god is great, makes me contrast the concept of total war employed against germany and japan with the PC nature of warfare today and wonder why when with but a couple of suitcase nukes our economy could be devastated and mass hysteria prevail - hardly seems worth the debate when it comes to a bunch of their innocents dying V ours, eh? our laws and morals and heritage and customs and our system of government and all of it rolled up in one ball cannot stop the message of wahabbism and its creep into more people's lives. they believe they can win the final show-down what with god on their side. the way things are now i would give them a 50/50 chance of just that

Akiva said...

Ann, I strongly agree with P. Jeff. Your questions are based on a certain cultural mindset, not a 'natural' human state. For example, if you were raised that 'honor' is more important than life, constantly reinforced through your life, then that would be natural.

Then you might ask a question, 'how could the person not kill themselves when they lost honor?'

In this case, they've been taught, through their whole lives, that the honor of the religion, the path of strict justice according to the word of their god, supercedes family, society, and life itself. If the 'prophet' is dishonored, how could you not sacrifice your life or freedom to redeem the honor?

Grasp the context that allows a father or brother to kill a female relative for 'dishonor'. That insists an infidel (that's us) that insults their religion be killed, regardless of consequence or sacrifice required. Think of the most dedicated people you know (for whatever cause), now think of that level of dedication focused like this.

They're not intimidated, they're following a completely foreign life context. Read and hear what their leaders are saying. Check out memritv.org.

And they've decided that your existance is a problem to their religion.

KCFleming said...

Is Islam now salvageable?

Where is the Muslim Augustine, or Luther, or Ghandi?

Why are there few, if any, Muslim critics saying 'not in my name' to the terrorists?

vnjagvet said...

Ritual sacrifice has long been a way to purity in religion.

The Aztecs, Incas and Hawaiians all sacrificed young men and women to please their Gods.

That there are sects of Islam that truly believe that ritual killing is purifying is not so far from where humanity has been, indeed not so foreign to human nature as to be inconceivable.

In Genesis, God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to test his faith. God stopped Abraham only after he showed he was going to obey him.

As Pastor Jeff points out, Christianity preaches the ultimate sacrifice for purity; God's sacrifice of his only Son who was crucified to expiate the Sin of Mankind once and for all. "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin or the world" is one of the most beautiful choruses in Handel's Messiah, and one of the most beautiful messages of the Christian Gospel.

That message, to the extent it has been taken to heart, I believe has been one of the great civilizing influences to mankind. But to the extent others believe they must sacrifice me, my family, my friends or my fellow citizens for their purity, I believe I must do everything I can to stop them.

It saddens me, but I think it is clear that Bouyeri and his like, who just blew up subways and a bus in London, prove that waiting and hoping will not work. Sometimes war is the answer when the question is will we survive.

P_J said...

I agree. But I think people like Bouyeri, bin Laden, et al have chosen not to think; or rather, have surrendered their reason to an ideology of hate. I don't think this is true of the majority of Muslims, but they are conditioned by a religion that demands unquestioning obedience in order to purify oneself.

To a Muslim, it is not dismal to fixate on purity, but desirable. The average Muslim is absolutely and threateningly discouraged from questioning religious leaders (who definitely know what God wants).

I don't believe that the values of individuality, freedom and reason are universal, but are a heritage of the very Enlightenment which radical Islam hates with a passion. Jefferson's truths seemed self-evident to him (and us), but are not the norm for the rest of the world. I think the study of religion and history bears this out.

Uncle Jimbo said...

I love when someone supporting the unsupportable strictures of Sharia law, advises others they are unable to comment as they are culturally impaired.

BS. If a main tenet of your religion involves killing those who disagree with you, cultural references are irrelevant. Common sense says you don't get that religious freedom.

Especially if a second tenet is that women are property. I feel free to say that commentary on that is also plenty fair.

The next step involves trotting out an enslaved, compliant female Muslim to declare that the hijab empowers her.

Spare me the claims that Ann, me or anyone else can't throw a BS flag on that.


Uncle J

Ann Althouse said...

I understand that many people go along with things they are taught and sleepwalk through their whole lives, but I don't excuse that. They are responsible. They have minds. It's not enough to say this is how I was brought up. When the thing you find yourself doing is so extreme, there must be something in you -- humanity -- that moves you to ask: is this right?

P_J said...

I don't think I ever said that the jihadists aren't responsible for their actions or that they are in any way morally justifiable. The question was, "Why are they this way?" not "Are they justified?" I see these people as similar to the BTK killer in Kansas, who occasioned a similar thread here a week or so ago, wrestling with the "why" and "how" of that kind of evil.

Uncle J,
If your comments are directed at me, then you've misunderstood me. I read your offsite post on OBL and agreed completely. Radical Islam pretty is close to pure evil. I'm only saying you can't reason with its adherents based on moral values they don't accept in the first place. You might as well plead mercy from the BTK killer.

ziemer said...

does anybody remember the 1980's, when, whenever israel would close a terrorist training camp, the western media uncritically reported the complaints of the terrorists that the jews were denying palestinians access to higher education?

i do.

wouldn't it be nice if we could say that was something surreal, far in the past, which regret?

and yet, in the academy, in the media, and in the democratic party, that mentality still reigns not merely supreme, but unquestioned, and unquestionable.

Mom said...

I have to agree with Dirtcrashr that "ritual purity" is a common and catastrophic theme across humanity. Consider the acts of the Nazis and of the ordinary Germans who allowed them to flourish. That quest for "purity" came straight out of the heart of Western traditions.

I don't doubt for a moment that people raised in a fundamentalist Islamic culture think about morality, honor, death, and life in a way that's practically unrecognizable to Westerners. But if we want to win the battle against this particular form of evil, or even if we're simply trying to understand these particular evil-doers, it would be a dangerous mistake to tell ourselves, "We couldn't think like that -- our Christian heritage wouldn't permit it." The recent history of the West shows that we can, and it does. Evil is a human capability, not limited to any particular religion or culture. So is the construction of elaborate rationalizations like "ritual purity" that permit the evil-doer to believe that his murderous actions are somehow pleasing to God.

Ann Althouse said...

Mrs. Whatsit: Thanks for writing that. I hope all my readers see that my original comments are written in general terms not limited to the sick version of Islam that Bouyeri acted upon.

goesh said...

yup, the notion of sending sinners back to God to deal with is a common thread alrighty. The use of nukes sure will make their task easier and more efficient. it has been 60 years since we used a nuke. i wonder if the jihadis will wait that long before using one on us?

Sloanasaurus said...

They should put him in a round cell that turns around so he never knows the direction of mecca. Also they should step on his Koran from time to time and perhaps feed him pork for dinner.

P_J said...

Mrs. Whatsit,

Double "Amen" to that. The history of America shows us that we can think like that.

NotClauswitz said...

Honor is the outward and social-face aspect of internal and personal, Ritual Purity. Honor is found in Sharia-law approved killing and other hurts that are meted-out under that system of (in)justice. There are other systems of inexplicable (to a Western mind) injustice, like the Caste System (ritual purity) or even Bushido (honor) - but not all Hindus ascribe to the former or Japanese to the latter.
In the West, we find the concept of individual Honor emerge as Chivalry, in the social order and standing. During my reading of Medieval German Lit. Chivalry was taught as a hugely significant but very short-lived actual period, not unlike the Cowboys of the West - brief in duration but lasting significance.
Anyhow this is getting pretty tangential - the poisonous strain of Islam has to suffer the same fate as the Hindu Cult of Thugee, but Islam has no tradition of acceptable plurality like Hinduism (innately) has, or which came about during the Christian Reformation.
Islam has only allowed various sects that are tied to the closeness of originality to vie for interpretive power over the central codices, a system which tends to lift-up dominant the Ayatollah-type figures - but strongman rule is not a stable system, however crushing its foundations might be: "Look on these works ye mighty...etc."

SippicanCottage said...

Well, this is an example of seeing what you're looking for in something whether it's there or not. The word "purely," is used to mean solely, or only. If he had meant the act itself was committed to achieve purity, there would have been a comma after it.
"I acted purely in the name of my religion"

That's not he same as:
I acted purely, in the name of my religion:

Talk about what he said. Words mean things.

gs said...

Ann writes, "How can it never cross your mind that you might have made a mistake in your analysis, and why is it not horrible arrogance to proclaim that you are sure you know what God wants? What makes people think God wants purity, let alone to go on and imagine that a bloody stabbing is a pure thing?"

One answer to the first sentence is: by surrounding yourself with like-minded people. (That is, surrounding yourself physically and/or figuratively.)

The second question also has a simple answer: they just do. A small fraction of the human race has such an extreme mindset. Call it evil, call it evolutionary trial and error, call it nature or nurture...it's a fact.

Unfortunately, these simple answers imply other, harder questions...

amba said...

Ann, you say, "I don't think that being nonWestern impairs reason."

But look at this at The Glittering Eye about "oral culture." This suggests that what we call "reason" itself is a product of literacy, and perhaps of several generations of majority literacy.

I had another reaction to this "purity" business -- I think it has a special appeal for adolescents, who tend to be absolutists. It reminds me of anorexia, and of the emotions and peer one-upmanship of some of the young New Left America-haters who became the Weather Underground.