Paula Kirby www

Geert Wilders is the leader of a far-right party, and for that reason alone it would not take much to persuade me that he is, on a personal level, a thoroughly nasty piece of work.

But this question is not about Geert Wilders, it is about the film, Fitna, and I suspect that if it had been made by anyone else, there would not have been such an outcry about it. I watched it this morning and found it rather good. It is undoubtedly shocking, but what makes it shocking are the atrocities carried out by the Islamic extremists and the hatred in the voices of the imams preaching violence – not the film as such. There is no commentary – it simply shows Surahs from the Quran, then film clips of Islamic preaching, then the atrocities which – it is strongly implied – result. There is also a disturbing clip of a three-and-a-half year old girl being trained to think of all Jews as “pigs and apes”.

I couldn’t see anything in it which merited being banned or that should have led to Wilders being excluded from Britain last week. The quotations from the Quran are real; the film of the preachers certainly appears to be real; the atrocities clearly are real. That being so, why should a filmmaker not be free to say so?

The UK Home Secretary said last week that freedom of speech did not extend to the right to shout “Fire!” in the middle of a crowded theatre. But he overlooked the fact that, if you have good reason to believe there really is a fire, then you not only have the right, but the duty, to say so.

I have only one quarrel with the film and that is that it doesn’t make it clear that not all Muslims are extremists. There is a bit where it shows how dramatically the Muslim population of Europe has grown over the last 100 years. In context, this is probably relevant: it comes immediately after a section showing that the Quran advocates Islamic world domination, and showing Islamic extremists determined to bring that about. I just wish Wilders had made it clear that not all the Muslims included in those statistics are supporters of extremism. As I mentioned before, the film itself has no commentary (this is actually one of its strengths – the images are left to speak for themselves), but at the very end of it there are some comments that scroll up the screen – SOMETHING here spelling out that the film was only about extremists, not about all Muslims, would have been welcome, in my view.

I think this is particularly important, because I can’t think of any possible solution to the very real threat posed to us by the extremists, other than to enlist the support and help of Muslim moderates.

But despite that reservation, and despite my antipathy to Wilders’ politics, I think this is an important film, and one we should all see.

Posted: February 15th 2009

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flagellant www

Before I give my opinion on Fitna, I’d like to say a bit about the position I come from. Firstly, I regard all religions as silly: I object to the way in which most religions are dogmatic about the 'truth’ of their faith, in the face of lack of evidence. Secondly, I object to the way in which all religions are afforded an unjustified reverence in modern society. And thirdly, I think that, in addition to being silly, some are quite nasty. These views illuminate my position on Wilders’s film.

I have had some experience of Mohammedanism, the religion criticised in Fitna. I was in New York, just a few doors away from Salman Rushdie’s publishers, Viking Penguin, when the demonstrations about The Satanic Verses started. When I had the opportunity, I went out and remonstrated with the demonstrators. There was no doubt in my mind about their bloodthirstiness. Later, I tried to attend public readings of the book by prominent Americans, but the crowds in support were too great.

I have to say that I think the US’s reaction to the Rushdie affair was rather better than that in the UK: John le Carré's comments, for example, were totally pusillanimous. The general reaction among the British establishment seemed to be encapsulated in an unexpressed hope that either the Mohammedan aggressiveness, or Rushdie himself – or both – would simply go away. This reaction was mistaken. Something much stronger was required.

Over the years, Europe has absorbed large numbers of Mohammedans. Children born here have been indoctrinated and the ever-expanding population now causes growing difficulties for administrations. Governments have either modified laws (e.g. introducing religious protectionism in the UK), or ignored them (e.g. in failing to deal firmly with polygamy, honour killings, and female genital mutilation, again in the UK), in the interests of 'multiculturalism’. The problems implicit, for the essentially liberal West, in Mohammedanism, have been ignored for too long. As a consequence, the difficulty is all the greater now.

Given the cowardice of the main political parties, it now falls to the extremists, such as the British National Party, or 'phobes’ such as the UK Independence Party, to speak antagonistically about Mohammedanism. The film Fitna, which I have seen, comes from a Dutch director who appears to have extreme views. However, I think he makes a valid point: Mohammedanism is indubitably a nasty religion; there is no getting away from it.

Fitna is not an artistic masterpiece, but Wilders is rightly critical of the Koran. I have read it and I find much of it distasteful. It may have been a sensible social manual for desert groups more than a thousand years ago but it isn’t relevant in the 21st century. An easy example, beside those given by Wilders on violence, is to be found in Sura 4: it is derogatory about women, regarding them as an inferior species. This only goes to confirm the view, gleaned by listening to the experiences of women in 'newly liberated’ countries like Iraq, that Mohammedanism is a male-power thing. For that alone, it must be considered nasty: the overthrow of Saddam put the plight of Iraqi women back seventy years.

It is a pity that Wilders has been prevented from appearing in the UK. I think his visit could have done a lot of good. Our politicians are frightened of opposing this nasty group; when Mohammedans like Iqbal Sacranie, who advocated Rushdie’s death – “Death, perhaps, is a bit too easy for him…” – and who is highly critical of homosexuality, find themselves ennobled, it’s obvious that we’ve gone wrong somewhere.

Fitna is rightly critical of Mohammedanism; it is a nasty religion. We shouldn’t be shooting the messenger, especially when he’s a Netherlands MP, even if we do not agree with him wholeheartedly.

Posted: February 13th 2009

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Eric_PK

I’m not an expert on Islam enough to comment on the specifics, but I do find it interesting that whenever there is anything that talks about how Islam is violent, the people get death threats.

I think that’s a pretty strange way to demonstrate the non-violent nature of something.

Posted: February 13th 2009

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logicel

It is beyond hypocrisy Wilders laments the censorship directed towards his film and the Danish cartoons while calling for the Qur’an to be censored, not to mention the clanging cognitive dissonance of accusing Islam as being fascist while exhibiting some fascist tendencies yourself. Both the film and the book should not be censored.

The banning of Mein Kampf, the criminalization of Holocaust denial, and hate speech laws in some European countries are very problematic. Banning can give cult status to the books and the people involved, making them appear much more important than what they are resulting in the opposite effect in that they become more popular instead of less. And then to dampen their increased popularity, the powers-to-be then retreat into silence instead of embracing vigorous, and open discussion/analysis necessary for all thriving democracies.

European countries are countries of law, and existing laws need to be exercised with no special privileges extended to particular segments of the population. Educating children in what it means to be members of a democratic society and its rights and responsibilities are way more crucial than tampering with free speech.

Posted: February 13th 2009

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Reed Braden www

Fitna is propaganda. It takes the violent verses of the Qur’an and juxtaposes those with scenes of terrible violence. It then ends with the sound of paper tearing with a disclaimer that the sound was not actually the sound of a page being ripped from the Qur’an but the sound of a phone book being torn, and a call for Muslims to rip out the violent verses of their holy book.

First off, you cannot focus explicitly on the violent verses of the Qur’an (cherry picking) and then use that as justification for condemning the entire book and the religion that follows it, especially when you are, as Geert Wilders is, a Roman Catholic. Catholics believe in the Bible, and while there have been more deaths attributed to Islam recently than there have been attributed to Catholicism recently, Catholics follow the Bible and the Bible has a higher ratio of violent and potentially-violent verses to wholesome or neutral verses than does the Qur’an. This is blatant hypocrisy on Wilders’ part.

Second, it is not up to Geert Wilders to tell Muslims to ignore sections of their own book. That is the job of the moderate Muslims and the Muslim governments. Christian extremists didn’t stop stoning alleged witches in the Western nations until the Christian moderates called on them to stop and codified the protection of life (even the lives of those assumed to be witches) into law. No Muslim told the Christians to stop murdering, the Christians had to stop it themselves. No verses had to be written out of the Bible, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” was simply cast on top of the large and ever-growing pile of verses that Christians ignore. That is how it should happen in Islam. Muslim extremists will not listen to a non-Muslim when they tell them to stop the slaughter. Nor should Muslims not have to alter the text of their holy book, rather, the extremist Muslims should switch what group of verses they emphasise: The large amount of peaceful verses instead of the tiny amount of violent verses.

Third, there is much beauty in the Qur’an when it is viewed (as a whole, not cherry-picked) as a piece of literature. Recitations of the Qur’an in its original Arabic often bring Muslims, even moderate Muslims, to tears because of its beauty. To decry the entire book because of a few violent and potentially violent verses is wrong. It would be appropriate to say that the Qur’an cannot make a single factual claim that, taken at face-value, agrees with scientific fact, therefore the book is fiction. It would also be appropriate to say that since the Qur’an was written before the explosion of scientific progress in the Middle East and Europe, it shows a distinct ignorance of what we now know to be reality. It is not appropriate to say that since the Qur’an makes a few violent and potentially violent claims, it must be completely discarded regardless of whether it is fictional or not, which is what the film Fitna seems to demand.

It should be said that Fitna does make a point that there are verses in the Qur’an that explicitly endorse or tacitly imply violence, so we as a global community should figure out an effective method of stopping the spread of extremist philosophy which is fixated on those verses. But in making a declaration that the entire book should be thrown out or that the book should be amended to exclude those verses, Geert Wilders tramples into the domain of other ultra-conservative douche nozzles like Ann Coulter, Michael Savage and anyone else who has ever said, “Nuke 'em and let Allah sort 'em out.”

Posted: February 13th 2009

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