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Summary:

After months of controversy, Dutch politician Geert Wilders has released his anti-Islam short film Fitna online, a move many fear will incite a repeat of the violence resulting from the 2005 publication of cartoons of Muhammad. But so far, reaction to the film has been more […]

After months of controversy, Dutch politician Geert Wilders has released his anti-Islam short film Fitna online, a move many fear will incite a repeat of the violence resulting from the 2005 publication of cartoons of Muhammad. But so far, reaction to the film has been more of a whimper than a bang.

The film, which Wilders has promoted as showing how “verses from the Qur’an are being used today to incite modern Muslims to behave violently and anti-democratically,” has been a hot topic in the Arab world for months now — Pakistan’s attempt to ban a trailer for the film caused a worldwide YouTube outage. At first seeking to air the film on Dutch television, Wilders was unable to find any broadcaster willing to show it, and thus resorted to the Internet, uploading to LiveLeak.com on Mar. 27.

LiveLeak immediately began receiving “serious threats” and thus was forced to remove the film for a short time in order to increase security for its employees.

A statement on LiveLeak’s site reads,

“We will not be pressured into censoring material which is legal and within our rules. We apologise for the removal and the delay in getting it back, but when you run a website you don’t consider that some people would be insecure enough to threaten our lives simply because they do not like the content of a video we neither produced nor endorsed but merely hosted.”

Since restoring the film, Fitna has amassed over 4 million views — a 10-minute English-subtitled YouTube cut is closing in on a million additional hits.

The actual film consists of photos and news clips of terrorist violence (including an extended sequence devoted to 9/11) and quotes from the Qur’an that purport to endorse such actions. The end calls for the Muslim world to cut these violent passages out of their faith (literally represented by the sound of pages being torn out of a book).

The film does have its moments of visceral shock, but it doesn’t quite pack the punch Wilders clearly wants it to. For one thing, it has all the production value of a kid who’s just figured out how to use the sepia tone filter in iMovie. For another, every Qur’an quotation Wilders cites bears resemblance to similarly violent passages from the Old Testament — it’s incredibly unfair to judge an entire religion by its most extreme elements. As Dutch Prime Minister Jan Balkenende says in a statement condemning the film: “The vast majority of Muslims reject extremism and violence. In fact, the victims are often also Muslims.”

Wilders is that most odd of contradictions: a proponent of free speech who demands an audience for his film, but wants to make the Qur’an a banned book in the Netherlands. One of the last credits of the film calls for viewers to “Defend your freedom!” — but he clearly means freedom on his own terms.

According to Menssat.com, “The worst thing the Muslim world could to Geert Wilders and his anti-Islam movie…is to simply ignore him and it. That seemed to be the main reaction to the early release.” Meanwhile, in the days following Fitna‘s release, hundreds of Dutch YouTubers have uploaded “I’m sorry” videos. So far, all Wilders’ film has inspired is messages of apology and tolerance — an unintended result, and a reassuring one.

  1. I had a chance to watch Fitna the other day and found it incredibly disturbing. I can understand how Wilders could possibly justify portraying a religion as such given recent world events, but aren’t right-wing Christian fundamentalists in the US just as bad? Plus it should be noted that the Qur’an is not the problem, its the sick interpretation being pummeled into the heads of young, impressionable Muslims by those who live the religion only by its most extreme statements.

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  2. In an important judgement on a case dealing with religious freedom of speech in the High Court on 23rd July 1999, Lord Justice Sedley quoted Socrates and two famous Quakers when he declared: “The irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and provocative have a right to be heard.”

    The corporate and state organs have no right to decide on our behalf what we should read, watch, or hear, even if we find the material objectionable.

    The removal of Fitna from various webhosts was nothing but pre-emptive censorship!

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  3. Not many people know as well as me where Wilders gets his artistic ability from.

    You see I am an 84 year old man and I used to know Wilders’ mother who gave me many hours of pleasure with her lips and tongue. I tried to make her more respectable and told her that her lips and tongue can be used over my entire body, but she insisted on using it only in a particular region of the lower half of my body. She said she derived extra pleasure from seeing me happy. I had to leave her though because she was focused on only giving me pleasure and obtaining the same from me. I did miss her so until I found someone else who could fill the void that was left from the lack of her presence.

    I don’t mean to cause offense but it’s important for the world to know the facts and that I should be able to exercise my right to freedom of expression without fear from anyone.

    Also I don’t hate Wilders, I just hated his father who provided the genes that resulted in this mass of protoplasm that couldn’t find anything better to do with his life.

    Finally, a graduate student in need of ideas for his thesis could look into the relationship between one’s looks and the amount of pain and suffering individuals cause others. It appears that those who seem to have caused the most suffering to their fellow men have been the most ugliest individuals such as Hitler and Milosevic, with whom he shares an uncanny resemblance; although his mother appeared more pleasing than that except for the missing front tooth and bad breath.

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