Pim Fortunyn's Assassination
By Rex Wockner
The Dutch media, which does not name criminal suspects, identified him as Volkert van der G., abbreviating his last name, and said he is married, has a child, works for an organization called Environment Offensive, and lives in Harderwijk, 30 miles (50 km) east of Amsterdam.
Fortuyn was campaigning on an anti-immigration platform and had angered some Muslims by criticizing their conservative and anti-gay beliefs. His followers were expected to win the second-largest number of seats in parliament in the May 15 national election.
A recent poll of readers of the magazine De Gay Krant found that more planned to vote for Fortuyn-affiliated candidates than for any other party.
"It still feels totally unthinkable, and it feels like our democracy and our way of life have been deeply wounded," veteran Dutch gay activist Grada Schadee said May 7.
"I was much against his political ideas but I deeply respected him on his openness [as a gay man]. He was so sharp in his debating techniques. He was serious yet also caused much laughter with the public."
"The whole country is in shock," said Alex Kröner, publisher of the Amsterdam magazine Gay & Night. "He won one-third of the votes in [the] Rotterdam [local elections] and they expected that he would show at least 20 to 25 percent nationally. People are bringing flowers to his house and where the shooting was and also in Amsterdam at the national square."
"It's difficult to generalize," said Gay & Night Editor Hans Verhoeven. "You either loved him or you hated him. One of the things that was important, he was very openly gay. He talked on public radio about his visits to dark rooms [gay bar backrooms] and he told about the rent boys [hustlers] he employed at his home. He was very open and that was, strangely enough, accepted by the whole society and made him an example for gay people, not only about being out but about how to explore your gay life.
"The general feeling here is one of disbelief. It is the first time since 1672 that we had a political assassination," Verhoeven said.
"I find it intolerable that I am being compared with statesmen such as [Joerg] Haider and [Jean-Marie] Le Pen," he said April 8, referring to right-wing politicians in Austria and France. "My policies are multi-ethnic and certainly not racist."
Dutch Muslim clerics were threatened with criminal prosecution last year for calling homosexuality a "shameless," "scandalous," "intolerable" "sickness" that "could destroy society."
There are about 800,000 Muslims in The Netherlands, many from Morocco and Turkey. They are about five percent of the population.
Fortuyn's Web site described him this way: "His lifestyle is noble, his thinking utterly non-conformist, he is a romantic at heart. Literature and ideals, fury and doubt, hedonism and compassion: Pim Fortuyn is a multi-cultural country all by himself. Aesthete and grass-roots democrat. Privileged child and desperado. Dadaist with a gladiator's head. Rebel with a cause."