Lale Gül wins Pim Fortuyn Prize; commemoration of Fortuyn's murder interrupted
Dutch-Turkish writer Lale Gül, 24, won the Pim Fortuyn Prize on Friday at a symposium in Rotterdam on the 20th anniversary of the politician's murder. The same day, several protesters were arrested for interrupting a commemoration of Fortuyn's assassination, also in Rotterdam.
Politician Pim Fortuyn was murdered on May 6, 2002 at the Media Park in Hilversum. Every year, a prize in his honor is awarded to opinion makers, administrators or politicians who, according to the organization fight for free speech, break through taboos or take a stand in social debate.
Gül, whose debut novel "Ik Ga Leven" draws on her experience of oppression from growing up in a strict Muslim family, was this year's sole nominee. "Lale is a fearless intellectual," the jury said. "She describes important themes such as freedom of choice for women and the disadvantage compared to men from her own experience and she does not shy away from the sometimes painful reality."
Gül said on talk show HLF8 that he was "hugely proud" of winning the Pim Fortuyn Prize. "This is the best prize I've won so far," she said.
At the symposium in Rotterdam city hall, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb gave a welcome speech and participants discussed the significance of Fortuyn for the younger generation. At the time of his assassination, the politician was a polarizing figure largely because of his stances on immigration and Islam. However, 20 years after his death, a survey shows many people in the Netherlands agree with Fortuyn's ideas.
Later in the day, around 10 demonstrators disrupted a commemoration of Fortuyn's death in Rotterdam, according to the NOS. Around 400 people were present at the event, near a statue of the politician on Pim Fortuynplaats, to observe a two-minute silence at the time of Fortuyn's assassination 20 years prior.
Before the moments of silence, Fortuyn's brother, Simon, gave a short speech. He said "we have worked...for years" to remove the label of "fascist" and "far-right extremist" from his brother's memory.
"And now, 20 years later, there is rehabilitation and I am very happy with that," Simon Fortuyn said, according to the NOS. "People now talk about Pim very differently, about his analyses and his ideas."
During the moment of silence, the group of protesters began shouting. According to Rijnmond, they were members of the far left. Two of the protesters were arrested.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times