Slaughter And 'Submission'

Creator Of Dutch Film Vows Sequel Despite Muslim Death Threats

Paul Scheffer, a professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam, says people of faith of every kind are welcome, so long as they understand that in Dutch democracy, virtually nothing is sacred.

"You can't live here with a holy book that is above or beyond our democracy. Your holy book will be the object of criticism," says Scheffer. "It will be the object of interpretation, and sometimes of ridicule. And if you can't accept that, you can't live here."

"But it's not so easy, because what you're asking these families to do, when you even suggest that, is give up your tradition," says Safer. "And become one of us."

"They could interest themselves more for this society and the other way around as well," says Scheffer. "No one was interested in their existence. Never a question was asked because nobody was interested in the answer."

Nabil Marmouch, a Muslim community leader, agrees with Scheffer. He says Muslims in Holland have been marginalized and worse. And the movie, "Submission," is a prime example.

"You cannot emancipate women by insulting them," says Marmouch. "Unless, of course, that is your hidden agenda, to insult them, and to create what has happened here in the Netherlands."

Marmouch, who is starting a Muslim political party, says murder is wrong, but he says he was not surprised by the murder of Van Gogh: "We could expect that from the beginning."

In part, Marmouch's lack of surprise stems from the fact that Van Gogh insulted people from all religious backgrounds. "So that is a good argument," asks Marmouch. "'Oh, we Christians are being insulted, so you Muslims should also be insulted?' No, I don't think so."

Marmouch adds, "The whole thing is being politicized by Ayaan Hirsi Ali."

Hirsi Ali is seen as a traitor to Islam, the faith she rejected as a very young woman. She says her rejection of Islam started at an early age: "From the time I started reading novels of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, I wanted to be like Nancy Drew." Her beliefs estranged her from her parents, who remain devout believers.

"They just don't get it, I think," says Hirsi Ali, who says her father thinks she's misguided. "The last time I spoke to my father, he told me that he believes that one day I will return to the faith."

She's come a long way since she first arrived in Holland as a 22-year-old woman fleeing a marriage her father had arranged, and seeking asylum. Nowadays, she's a kind of star, and the Dutch take pride in how she rose from menial jobs in factories and hotels to attend university, and finally, to get elected to parliament.

How did she do it? "The American dream," says Hirsi Ali. "I think it's in every individual, if you have the will to improve your life."

She shook up Dutch politics by pointing to the blind spots in this tolerant democracy, like the murder of Muslim women who stray from the faith -- so-called honor killings.

"My accusation towards the Dutch society was, 'You think you are tolerant, but if you look behind those curtains in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, there are women who are abused. There are women who are taken to Morocco and Turkey and are killed there. They're murdered. And there are no records of those murders,' " says Hirsi Ali.

"I suppose some people would say we can't impose our alien laws on these new citizens," says Safer.

"That was the definition of tolerance before I came," says Hirsi Ali. "And now we are redefining that by saying, freeing these women, giving them a chance at life is not imposing Dutch will, or let's say Dutch values, on others. But it's protecting these individuals."

After the murder of Van Gogh, Hirsi Ali stayed in hiding for about three months. In January, she returned to parliament, to a democracy less sure of itself, and a new anxiety in Holland: a feeling that it's no longer safe to speak out or make art or movies about certain subjects.

Organizers of the Rotterdam Film Festival, for instance, cancelled a showing of "Submission," saying they feared violence.

But Hirsi Ali refuses to back down. She says she's going to make a sequel to "Submission."

"By not making 'Submission Part II,' I would only be helping terrorists believe that if they use violence, they're rewarded with what they want," says Hirsi Ali.

Will she submit to the threats? "Not me," she says.