Dutch MP ready to make sequel to Van Gogh film

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The Independent Online

A sequel is to be made to Submission, the Dutch film whose outspoken criticism of Islam and its treatment of women led to the murder of Theo van Gogh, one of its two creators.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch MP who worked with Van Gogh on the film, has completed the script for the short sequel which will take issue with Islam's hostility to homosexuality.

The sequel will be completed by the middle of next year and Ms Hirsi Ali hopes that one of the Netherlands' public broadcasters will screen it. The identity of the director and the actors working on the project are being kept secret to protect their safety.

Ms Hirsi Ali was forced into hiding by death threats after the murder of Van Gogh who was shot, stabbed and almost beheaded as he cycled through Amsterdam a year ago. A Muslim radical, Mohammed Bouyeri, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime, which was committed shortly after the first film was screened last year.

Ms Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born former asylum-seeker who was once a devout follower of Islam, now lives under permanent police protection, travelling in an armour-plated car. A note pinned to the body of Van Gogh threatened her by name and, for weeks after his murder, she was forced to sleep in different locations every night.

Undaunted, the Dutch Liberal MP told De Volkskrant newspaper: "I want to start a discussion about the position of gays in Islam. In the film they are described as creatures of Allah." Ms Hirsi Ali said that she had begun work on the script with Van Gogh shortly before his murder. A team of directors and actors asked to work on Submission II, not necessarily because they agreed with her message but to uphold freedom of expression. "I really admire this attitude," the MP said.

The original Submission, which ran for just 11 minutes, featured actresses in see-through veils talking about how they were mistreated by their husbands and male relatives.

The plot centred on a Muslim woman forced into a marriage against her wishes, who is then beaten, raped and punished for falling in love with someone else.

A spokesperson for Ms Hirsi Ali said yesterday: "It has been her plan all the time to go on and make more films. Submission II will not be the last one. She would have been at risk anyway, even if a second film were not made.

"The most important thing is that the director and actors should not be identified. At the end of the film their names will not be given [in the credits] but there will be a statement about how ridiculous it is that a film like this should be made in secret."

No lead role has been included in the new film and the actors' faces have been obscured, though one of those taking part has been identified as being gay.

Mainstream Islamic thought treats Islam and homosexuality as being incompatible. In 2002, the maverick Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, who was gay, accused Islam of being homophobic. He was later murdered by an animal-rights activist during an election campaign. Next week, the Dutch government will highlight its tougher policies towards immigrants by beginning deportation procedures against the survivors of a fire at a detention centre for failed asylum-seekers at Schiphol, near Amsterdam.

Consultation will begin to see which of around 200 survivors of last month's blaze are mentally and psychologically fit enough to be sent back to their country of origin. The announcement, from the hardline Minister for Immigration and Integration, Rita Verdonk, comes less than one month after the blaze in which 11 inmates died.

The detention centre housed rejected asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants as well as passengers detained at Schiphol airport with drugs.

Though the deportations were initially suspended in the aftermath of the fire, Ms Verdonk wanted to resume them earlier. However, she backtracked because of the need for witnesses to give evidence to investigators looking into the cause of the fire.

Interviews with around 50 potential witnesses should be complete by the end of next week. A further 200 face immediate deportation and, of these, 10 have already consented to leave the country.

Three opposition parties have appealed for detainees who were traumatised by the fire to be given leave to remain in the Netherlands.

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