I’ve talked about the Syrian uprising war twice before, and in the first of these two articles, I briefly mentioned the somewhat embarrassing fact that the Dutch have only come to care about the casualties of this war now that some of them appear to be our very own people. It has long since been known that hundreds of European men have willingly joined the battle over Syria, and the estimates of how many Dutch people (often young ones in their late teens or early twenties) are involved vary from several dozen to almost a hundred. Thus far, three of them have died just this year and this week, that number has increased to four. Last Monday, the jihadist website www.dewarereligie.nl (a phrase meaning: ‘the true religion’) has confirmed that the Dutch-Moroccan Choukri Masali, known to his peers are Abu Walae, was killed in action during a gun fight with members of the Kurdish PKK movement in Aleppo, one of the most contested cities in the civil war. Tensions between Syrian rebels and the PKK have flared up recently due to the PKK’s support to the Al-Assad regime. Choukri was the brother of Mourad Masali, the first Dutchman to die while fighting in Syria.
All this has taken place in the same week when a 19 year-old Dutch Muslim girl, was acquitted from legal charges of recruiting Dutch people for the war in Syria, and in the same week when the famous Dutch comedian/singer Hans Teeuwen spoke out against Islam on television. Teeuwen was a close friend of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker and columnist who was murdered by an Islamic fundamentalist in 2004. This Sunday, Hans Teeuwen was a guest at the popular Dutch television show Zomergasten (lt.: “Summer Guests”), an interview format that is based around the many video clips that the guest has selected. He spoke openly about the self-censorship that comes with being a vocal comedian; noting that it is no longer possible to make jokes about certain subjects without putting yourself in actual danger.