Okay, Geert Wilders’ movie Fitna is finally online. It was posted sometime yesterday and the English version has already been viewed over two million times. As I write this the Dutch version is at 2.5 million views. Talk about word-to-mouth!
First, the good news. Wilders did not do anything really stupid and really irresponsible like tear up or otherwise damage or deface the Koran. In other words, there is no reason whatsoever why someone should want to kill him or anybody else over this*. Besides, it turns out there already has been more than enough ado about nothing.
The sixteen minute movie is essentially a copy-and-paste job with verses of the Koran followed by images and speeches of violence and hate in the name of Islam. A good thing about the film is that, at the end, Wilders addresses the Muslim community, or his vision of this community, to tackle the problem of Islam-inspired violence. He does not advocate non-Muslim violence against Islam. The problem with Fitna is that its vision of Islam is terribly one-sided and limited. The movie, basically, could have been made by your average blogger. There is some truth in it, but it gets mixed up with a great number of simplified associations and generalizations.
Anyway, these are my first thoughts. I am writing this in the middle of the night and I think I should have another look at the movie when my mind is well-rested. In the meantime I am looking forward to comments from our readers. You can view Fitna at LiveLeak.com (or here in case of high traffic) and embedded below. Francophone readers can click here. For the time being, I’ll post any updates in the comments section.
*Disclaimer: I do not believe anybody should ever be killed or hurt over an expressed opinion. I wrote this with some of the death threats that Wilders has received in mind.
UPDATE: LiveLeak apparently had to nix the flick but you can still watch it HERE or HERE. Threats suck and are so pre-internets. Plus, they give the movie more credit than it deserves. I am providing the mirror links because now it really has become an issue of freedom of speech. And sadly so.
Astonishing therefore that people are really seeing this film as soft. Are we used already to all the violence that is depicted, donâ€™t we think that using lies, distortions and so on is a problem? It is an irresponsible form of abusing the freedom of speech, not only towards Muslims but also with regard to the people who voted for Wilders. I have spoken to some of them in the past and they have put their faith in him as the one who perhaps could solve the problems they experience. What Wilders has done know is behaving like a charlatan who sells rubbish, nonsense and a pack of lies and something that probably will not solve any problem.
I am loathe to add to the Wilders-hype, created both by him and the Dutch government, but the following video by Thomas Erdbrink is simply too amazing to let slip by AFOE’s international radar.
Thomas Erdbrink is a Dutch journalist and correspondent for NRC Handelsblad and he has a wonderful blog called Onze Man in Teheran or “Our Man in Tehran”. You guessed it, this man is working and living in Iran.
In his latest post Nederlanders in Iran or “Dutch people in Iran” he describes how he was contacted, in the wake of all the Wilders hype, by a Dutch television journalist regarding the safety of Dutch people in Iran. Erdbrink tells the journalist that “No, Dutch people do not have to go into hiding yet” and that “Things are pretty cool tension-wise”. Erdbrink then discovers that the unnamed journalist did not find this interesting enough and decided to show on television some spectacular stories about Dutch people in Pakistan instead. The tv programme apparently does not show anything about Iran. However, they do mention Iran in the same context.
Thomas Erdbrink does not find this “fair and balanced” and subsequently decides to make his own little documentary. He dresses up like a typical Dutch soccer fan, including orange hat, and starts interviewing Iranian people in the streets showing them a photo of Geert Wilders… I do not have the time, nor the technical skills, to subtitle this video in English, but absolutely no-one Erdbrink interviews mentions either Wilders or any zionist plot in The Netherlands against Iran. The people associate Holland with flowers, dope and Van Basten. Also mentioned are Dutch racism and freedom of speech in The Netherlands.
What I love about this video, apart from Erdbrink’s clear and justified statement about the way journalism should be practiced, is that it shows normal people instead of foaming-at-the-mouth politicians or clergy. Watch, for instance, the Iranian skaters. What a familiar sight they are to our Western eyes. I also have to mention that this video is NOT apologetic of the Iranian regime. A good journalist simply needs to show, as best he can, the diverse reality on the ground and not stoop to all the hype-making politicians are known for. Hence the caption Erdbrink added to his video: “This video may be shocking to people watching Dutch current affairs programmes.” And at the end of the video he walks into an Iranian store to buy some pistachio nuts and… Gouda cheese!
Here is the video. And do not worry if you do not understand Dutch. The interviews are conducted mainly in English and I think the images speak for themselves.
Update: Correction. The guy in the video is not Thomas Erdbrink but a friend of his. And it was this friend who was contacted by the television journalist. Erdbrink and this friend then made the vid together. Sorry, my mistake.
Two weeks ago Denmark was in turmoil because Danish newspapers decided to reprint the infamous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad after one of their authors had received death threats. And there is another Islam-related crisis brewing. This time in The Netherlands. Iâ€™ll give our readers a brief update on the situation.
Yesterday, Dutch Minister for Developing Cooperation Bert Koenders cancelled a working trip to Somalia because his delegation had received â€œdirect threatsâ€. The reason? Dutch MP Geert Wilders is about to release a fifteen minute self-made movie, called Fitna or â€˜tribulation’, in which he will attempt to demonstrate that the Koran is â€œa terrible and fascist book that inspires people to horrible actions and violence.â€ The release date should be some time this March.
No-one has seen the movie yet, but Wilders already seems to have collected a few death threats himself and yesterday, in a rather unusual move, the Dutch Cabinet officially distanced itself from the movie and thereby from Wildersâ€™ actions. The official stance is that the movie threatens the security of Dutch citizens and the military abroad. Wilders subsequently accused the Cabinet of capitulating to Islam. Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen and CDA PM Pieter van Geel even called on Wilders not to broadcast his movie because “it could affect security and the Dutch economy”. His alleged response: â€œThey can go and screw themselves.â€ Employersâ€™ organizations have also called on Wilders not to broadcast Fitna. Wientjes, president of the organization VNO-NCW, apparently stated that the business community benefits from a tolerant climate and that Wilders is not contributing to that. There are stories circulating that Dutch airhostesses are now afraid to fly to certain countries, that the Taliban in Afghanistan have announced to take actions against Dutch people and that a number of international business fairs are refusing Dutch entries.
At the same time several parties and MPs are, albeit cautiously, stressing the importance of freedom of expression. More precisely, Femke Halsema from GroenLinks (Left Greens) and Socialist Party leader Jan Marijnissen. They do point out, however, that Wilders has the moral responsibility to consider if the goal in this case really does justify the means. And both the Justice Minister and the Minister of Domestic Affairs have talked to Wilders warning him about the risks the movie poses to himself and the country.
Personally, I am really getting fed up with people issuing death threats, or worse, just because somebody expressed an opinion they find offensive even when I understand that some people, like Wilders, really seem to be â€˜begging for itâ€™. Consciously stirring up resentment under the guise of freedom of expression, by asking to ban the Koran in The Netherlands for example, is idiotic and makes a mockery of that very same freedom. There is a grain of truth in that the Koran is used by some Muslims factions and individuals as an inspiration/excuse for violence, but these problems are extremely complex and are not going to be solved by a simple, cinematographic book burning session. On the contrary. Still, Wilders is no Hitler and as far as I know he has not been inciting violence against Muslims. And, more importantly, the movie has not even been shown yet.
PS: The Dutch phrase “nobody zit echt te wachten op this movie” in this mock trailer means “nobody really cares about this movie”. I also found a fairly recent interview, in two parts, on YouTube in which Wilders talks to FoxNews about his upcoming movie and his views on the Koran and Islam.
Anyway, weâ€™ll see what happens next.
Hopefully, NOT developingâ€¦
Update: Last Sunday some eight hundred people took to the streets in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif to protest “the Danish and Dutch insults against Islam”. The demonstrators, mainly students, shouted “death to Denmark” and “death to The Netherlands”, burned flags from both countries and demanded apologies and the punishment (in court) of those who insulted Islam.
“Recently some Dutch and Danish media, influenced by usurping Zionists, have distorted and insulted Islamic sanctities,” said a statement read out in parliament on behalf of lawmakers which was broadcast on state radio.
I suppose “usurping Zionists” is the Iranian version of our “dirty terrorists”? Anyway, for an interesting, and more refreshing, debate among Muslims about this issue and the matter of freedom of speech, you can visit ShiaChat.com. A few quotes:
They are misusing the freedom of expression. They don’t understand the sensitiveness of issues relating to Islam. They have the right to criticise Islam and its Prophet with academic integrity but insulting and caricaturing is utterly disgusting. Danish cartoons and the film by Theo van Gogh was more of an insult than criticism. I don’t know how insulting the new film is but I should also mention one thing – The Muslim reaction on cartoons and film was out of proportion and very childish.
Well, instead of whining, why don’t you make a documentary refuting what was raised on the film – that is the best revenge. Why go about rioting and proving every possible negative stereotype when a educated critique of the film in terms of a point by point refuting of themes in the movie, or a creation of a counter film pointing out inaccuracies.
You will alwyas find these kind of people rioting, burning and creating nuisance and mayhem. It is because they have no way to vent out their accumulated frustrations. I don’t blame them altogether. Those who are above them have the responsibility . They don’t understand that the Frankenstein’s Monster they have created will swallow their own fellow Muslims.
Update 2 (March 5th): Geert Wilders has apparently registered a website for the broadcast of his movie. It – the site but not yet the movie – can be found right here. And we keep on updating. I have removed some text referring to Wilders’ site being hosted in Canada. It turns out the content is officially in the US. And just now I found out that Dutch PM Balkenende, on a visit to Paris today, has asked Sarkozy for support – diplomatic or otherwise – in case all hell breaks loose… just to be on the safe side. The movie’s release appears to be scheduled for March 28th. What is going on here?