AMSTERDAM — Mohammad Bouyeri was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole Tuesday for killing Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
Legally, that means Bouyeri could be pardoned by the Dutch queen on special petition after 20 years. But van Gogh’s business partner and friend Gijs van de Westelaken told Daily Variety “that never happens.”
Van Gogh was shot and then stabbed Nov. 2 by Bouyeri while the filmmaker was riding a bicycle in his neighborhood in Amsterdam. The death was linked to “Submission,” a short he’d directed that was critical of Islam’s treatment of women. But van Gogh also had been outspoken and often derisive about Muslims.
Dutch-Algerian filmmaker Karim Traidia, whose pic “Island Guests” will have its world premiere in early October, however, told Daily Variety, “One man has been put away now, but he is only one man. The idea that it is OK to kill someone for what they think, that is still out there. It is a concept as old as human history and one that has to also be put away, to disappear.”
Van de Westelaken, who was the co-founder of Column Prods. with van Gogh, said there was little sense of relief in the film community about the sentencing.
“The murder of Theo van Gogh was like a smart bomb on free speech. It was very effective. People still have to go on with their lives but everyone is more cautious, and this in itself undermines free speech and is a danger to a free society.”
Doreen Boonekamp, director of the Dutch Film Festival, which will screen a retrospective on van Gogh during the event, Sept. 28-Oct. 7, said “Submission” will not be part of the screenings.
The fest will screen “All Souls,” a series of shorts by some 16 Dutch film producers and directors reflecting on the killing of van Gogh and response to it.
Van de Westelaken has refused to allow “Submission” to be screened in Holland, saying he won’t jeopardize lives, especially those of his employees, who had been threatened after the killing.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch parliamentarian who scripted “Submission” and had been threatened repeatedly, is still under the protection of the Dutch secret service.