Back in the fall of 2004, just after Theo Van Gogh was murdered, an artist named Chris Ripke painted a mural on a Rotterdam street with the text: “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. A scriptural quote, but universally accepted, one would think, and not at all controversial.
Needless to say, local Muslims complained, and the municipality ordered city workers to remove the mural. A video reporter named Wim Nottroth stood in front of the mural in an attempt to prevent its removal, but he was arrested by police.
The authorities also ordered all news videos of the operation destroyed, but at least one survived and was uncovered by the diligent detective work of Vlad Tepes.
The video went to our Flemish correspondent VH for a translated transcript, and then back to Vlad for the subtitling. The result is below:
VH has translated some supplemental material about the incident. First, an email from Wim Nottroth, who was arrested:
A Rotterdam artist, Chris Ripke, created a piece to show his disgust over the murder of Theo van Gogh. A beautiful expression with an angel and the text “Thou shalt not kill”.
Chris is a very upright artist who for instance created these nice statues near Angelo Betti [trendy pizzeria].
His studio is right next door to the mosque in the Insulindestraat [the Turkish Iskender Pasa Camii Mosque]. The mosque found the text “Thou shalt not kill” to be offensive. So they called Ivo Opstelten [then mayor, VVD, center right]. As a journalist for the local television station Cineac North I went there to film this morning.
Initially I was asked not to film there because too much tension might then arise in the neighborhood. I was busy in a discussion when the spray-trolley wanted to get to work to spray away the art work. I could not stand that and then moved right in front of it.
After some scuffles with the police on the scene, I was arrested. I am now free again, the artwork is gone, the artist is flabbergasted, and I do not understand mayor Opstelten.
On top of that, my colleague Mireille was forced by the police to erase part of her recordings.
What a country. It is really unbelievable. Both Chris and I have been busy for with Turkish and Moroccan children / adults whom we try to involve. What a cramped government.
How beautiful that saying actually is: “Thou shalt not kill!” Something more universal is hardly possible. That you may not even put that on your wall!
VH adds this: Only a few months later, an Imam of that Turkish mosque was deported.
– – – – – – – – –
From Expatica: “Amid news that four imams will be deported for allegedly inciting Muslim radicalism, the Dutch security service AIVD has revealed it is keeping a close watch on six mosques and Islamic organizations. […] It has also been reported that a fourth imam will be deported. He is said to be an imam at Iskender Pasa Camii mosque at the Insulindestraat [map] in Rotterdam. He allegedly provoked hatred and incited people to jihad or holy war.”
From the newspaper Trouw: The Rotterdam imam was residing illegally in the Netherlands — According to a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service he aimed with “work” at Turkish youth: “He preached an orthodox, anti-Western and anti-democratic form of Islam. Journalist Mehmet Ülger reported that in the mosque anti-Western and women-unfriendly books were on sale.”
Meanwhile, an Interior Ministry report in August 2004, ‘Saudi Influences in the Netherlands’, described six mosques [one of them the Pasa Camii mosque in Rotterdam] or groups as “mosque associations with an outspoken Salafist character originating from a mission and finance from Saudi Arabia. […] An investigation by the AIVD indicated that the imams were consciously contributing to the radicalization of Muslims in the Netherlands. The imams are also accused of being involved in — or tolerating — the recruiting of Muslims for jihad or holy war. “
The man was active in the Iskender Pasa Camii-moskee at the Insulindestraat [map] in Rotterdam, which is located in a large social-cultural center. According to Isa Kandemir, chairman of the foundation behind this social-cultural center, the man was a volunteer at the mosque.
And from a sound file:
Interview with Wim Nottroth
Radio Rijnmond, Rotterdam
What happened yesterday, because how could this escalate, I almost should want tot say.
Yes, I do not understand it myself, I am just… I work for local TV, Cineac-North; in the past five years we have almost made 2000 items in Rotterdam Noord, as they say…
And you had heard there was a text, “that is what I want to film…”
Yes, there was something going on, so I jumped on my bike and went out to it, with the camera already on and all, and I get there and everyone starts, “no, do not film” and…
Who is that “everyone” in the neighborhood?
No, not in the neighborhood, there was an officer there and someone from the [Turkish] mosque, there were also a few people of the District [Rotterdam-North],
So there was commotion about the text…
Yeah, but as I found out they stood waiting for a spray trolley, so I started a bit of a discussion like “what is going on here” and “this is still a beautiful text” and I’m not religious, but I can find myself completely in it…
I just heard that it was the sixth commandment, I did not really know that myself, I knew it was one of the ten…
No, well it well have been the third, but perhaps it is also in the Koran or the Torah, or I don’t know what, but it is some sort of a universal text…
What happened when the spray trolley arrived, did you think “no way”?
Well, so I wanted an item, but yes, we did not really have very much yet, and when at one point that spray-trolley arrived… If I had done nothing than that spray-trolley would have started spraying and all would have blown over, and that was the intention. But I thought “what nonsense is this”, and I also had something like… look here, I find Theo van Gogh, and all his statements and such, that all I really found nothing, much too rude, that man, but I found it really terrible that he was killed. And… Well, that’s just a blow to us all. And well, there is another text on a wall, that really absolutely cannot be offensive, and that has to go! Well, I thought, “no way”, so stood in front of it and I said, well… I found that in a democratic constitutional state this slogan had be able in the Netherlands…
So they asked you three times to go away and you did not do that…
No, I stayed there, I raised the smallest blockade in Rotterdam…
And what was the result? A night in jail?
No, no, no, I finally, after a sort of altercation with the policeman, who began to lash at me and becoming annoying… what I found even more annoying is that my colleague who was still filming, he really started to threaten him in a very nasty way, and it this was really just ridiculous…
Yes I’ve seen the video… Something really bad would happen to you if you should continue filming, that is what was being said, I think…
Yeah, something like that, really, and that also my colleagues from other Cineac divisions in the city, they also have experienced the same recently, that every time by the police we… while we are just simply filming very much at street level…
Did they offer you an explanation afterwards? because that “Thou shalt not kill” is a subversive text goes very far…
I’ve heard absolutely nothing at all, I read in the [newspaper] Rotterdams Dagblad that Mr. Geelhof also finds it was a bit rude, how we had been dealt with…
Are you still going to take actions?
Well look here, I so far have only really been answering the phone, so every time I’m at work the phone rings and then Metro calls [a free newspaper where Van Gogh had a weekly column], and then that someone wants a comment, or…
And then we call…
… Radio Rijmond or so… So I’ve not really quite got to that.
But what if you think of it now?
Well I think it’s just ridiculous, I’d rather have it without a judge or whatever, because also we do not have that much money, and lawyers are expensive… Come on! It is the municipality that does this wrong; it is ridiculous that this artwork is removed from the wall, so just let someone for once be a brave guy and offer his apologies or something, then everything is normal again.
On this occasion a call to the Rotterdam police or the mayor, because he for that matter is in charge…
I would think so, yes.
A full transcript of “Thou Shalt Not Kill” video:
|00:14||There it is, but eh, well now I’m here and have
a good look at that text, which is written underneath,
|00:20||We somehow, because I also just arrived, get to
the conclusion that perhaps it is no Quranic text
|00:27||but from the Bible [laughter].
But it really appears very Christian.
|00:39||[locking the bike]
The guy there does not stand there for nothing.
|00:46||When will Chris be back now? Oh? So he is still away?
What does that say? Do people not find…
|01:01||The book of Deuteronomy is still the Bible.
”Yes, Chris had done that and that underneath was added later.”
|01:07||“And Chris, when he called me, he said that was from the Quran and such, but…”
|01:14||[with accent] Thou shalt not kill that is in the Quran, the Bible and such…
|01:19||We all do agree to that, don’t we?
Thou shalt not kill, we all agree to, isn’t it?
|01:25||Hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it…
|01:26||“Will you stay there?”
Yes, I do not agree that the text has to go.
|0:31||This is about a guy [man form Turkish Mosque],
I do not agree to this…
|0:35||Thus I find that it is from Deuteronomy, it should be
possible here in a democratic eh…
|0:39||You rather go stand there…
|01:43||Well, then I will remain standing here…
|01:48||If this goes away there will be more misery than there would be if you leave it.
|01:57||I do not agree with you.
|02:01||[officer] You better go because
Yes, but we must continue…
|02:07||Then you better call someone, because I’m going to call all my pals and everyone I know who…
|02:19||I think I act reasonably, I find in a democratic country…
|02:23||You hinder me in my work, it comes down to that then,
|02:28||I therefore order you, that you must go stand somewhere else now.
|02:33||No, I’m not going to stand somewhere else.
|02:35||I order you once again.
|02:43||I order you for the third time that you
must go stand somewhere else.
|02:49||Then we are going to arrest you now
|03:15||Are you continuing filming?
|03:19||Then it will not go well with you.
|05:12||I’m not sure though, but I think they cannot
forbid this. Because we are in a public space.
|05:20 — 05:28||What do you say?
”Or someone shoots you dead, or the police eh…”
|07:06||Chris Ripke, we are now standing next
to the panel where you actually made
|07:12||a work of art that said “Thou shalt not kill”…
|07:17||Yes, that text that I had made yesterday over
that angel and over the world underneath
|07:22||because I was quite upset by the news about
[the murder of] Theo van Gogh.
|07:33||And when I arrived here this morning, there was
another text over it that appeared seemingly
|07:38||to explain away that such things happen,
that bastards until the tenth generation must be…
|07:48||A short while later the police arrived.
|07:51||And the police summoned me to remove the text “Thou shall not kill”…
|07:58||According to the police it was ordered by “higher authorities” to remove it
|08:02||ordered by the political police of which I have never
heard before, and through mayor Opstelten
|08:06||and the chairman of the [Turkish] Mosque who was at the meeting.
|08:10||We did not reach an agreement that we one way or another could also in a different way…
|08:14||Why did the police actually find it had to go?
|08:19||The police said it could be understood as a racist expression towards my neighbors.
|08:27||That “Thou shalt not kill” or the text underneath? Other people had done that.
|08:32||Yes, they have not mentioned that text… it was only about that “Thou shalt not kill”
|08:37||But that is universal.
|08:39||Yes that is universal, and “Thou” stands for everyone, and I have had absolutely no intention to direct it
|08:47||to one person or a group, it was from sheer inability to understanding what kind of world we are in here.
|08:54||That by “Thou” you in fact meant in general.
|08:56||“Thou” is everyone. And it is not my text, it is a text of God according to the people who believe in that.
|09:05||What do you think about its being removed?
|09:07||I find it quite horrible, this whole business, I do not understand this state of affairs,
|09:15||and I am still shaky all over, and I am nervous… I think this really… sucks.
|09:26||Well uh… I wish you strength…
|09:28||Thank you, I hope Wim [Nottroth, arrested] will get in trouble over this, because I really find…
|09:34||but I better forget this… they say… well I will not forget this… but I must think about it for a while…
|09:44||Yes, I understand… thanks
|09:48||You also thanks that you still want to pick this up.|