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Brussels — The 14-year-old son of controversial film director Theo van Gogh, slain by an Islamic extremist last November, is said to have been threatened and assaulted by Moroccan teenagers in Amsterdam and insulted by his classmates. The allegations were made during an interview the boy’s grandparents gave to the Dutch television channel Nova. Amsterdam police have not confirmed any threats or aggression against Lieuwe van Gogh.
The family lawyer, Gijs de Westelaken, specified that after the murder, which profoundly shocked Dutch society, Lieuwe was attacked by some young Moroccan youths while he was walking the dog. The boy is said to have suffered bruising, but only spoke about the incident to his mother and did not lodge a police complaint.
On another occasion he is said to have been threatened with a pistol by two young men of North African descent in the neighbourhood where his father had lived. Neighbours called the police but when they arrived the attackers had fled.
According to his grandparents, Lieuwe was also subject to harrassment and insults at school, and was forced to change class after various classmates told him “it is a good thing your father is dead”.
An Amsterdam police spokesman said that in the aftermath of the murder of the filmmaker, they were in frequent contact with the boy’s mother and that Lieuwe had been under police protection for a period.
The Dutch director — a descendent of the painter Vincent van Gogh — caused controversy with his film ‘Submission’, broadcast in the Netherlands last August, which criticised the treatment of women in Islamic society.
He was murdered as he cycled to work in Amsterdam last November. The assailant shot Van Gogh and slit his throat. A letter was also pinned to his chest with a knife, quoting the Koran and threatening the Dutch-Somali MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote the script for the film.
A young radical Islamist was on Monday given a life sentence for the murder. Dutch-Moroccan Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, had confessed to the killing during his trial and told the court he would do it again if he had the chance.
Van Gogh’s killing shocked the Netherlands, which is known for its tolerant attitudes and laws, and sparked attacks on mosques and ethnic unrest around the country. Bouyeri was born and raised in Amsterdam, and there is no clear information on how and why he turned to radical Islam.
(Posted on July 28, 2005)