Theo van Gogh´s assassin, Mohammed B., went on trial yesterday in Amsterdam.
B. was arrested at the crime-scene - having emptied his gun into van Gogh and at the police - and had made no attempt to escape.
The Dutch authorities are keen for him to undergo psychiatric tests. They say that motives of terrorism, and B.´s belief that he was fighting a war, don´t preclude the possibility of insanity.
True, but a diagnosis of insanity would demolish B.´s stance as a holy killer of infidels. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the would-be martyr B. has said that he wants "to be held fully responsible for his actions." He turned his back on the psychiatrist sent to examine him, which, as the court was drily told yesterday, made the diagnosis problematic.
Mohammed B. was, for the first part of his life, a seemingly well-integrated, well-educated dual-nationality Dutch-Moroccan. But something tipped him into murderous hatred of Western society. He had in his pocket at the time of the murder a poem in Dutch about his martyrdom in which "the enemy" are warned that "the Knights of DEATH" are chasing them.
The insanity question goes to the heart of the matter. If Mohammed B. is not mad, then the society which produced him, and is now trying him, is.