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An Artist’s Murder: Critical Reflections on the Relationship between Contemporary Art and Muslim Political Sensibility

Syed Sami Raza

Abstract
In 2004 a young Dutch Muslim murdered a famous Dutch artist and
film director, Van Gogh, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The murder provoked
an intense wave of propaganda against Muslims and Islam in Europe,
particularly in the Netherland. The outburst of propaganda demonstrated
how one single incidence of criminal act by a relatively unknown man of
Islamic calling could put the peaceful identity of an entire community of
Muslims under threat. This essay endeavors to place Van Gogh’s murder in
its temporal and historical context. I engage other similar incidents and the
resulting propaganda, and argue that the polemic that these incidents
provoke often is not politically disinterested. Moreover, I argue that there
is need to understand the troubled relationship between art and religion,
especially as the appeal of violence draws a large number of people to its
call.

Keywords: Theo Van Gogh, Contemporary Art, Blasphemy, Political
Sensibility, Terrorism.