With the upcoming release of the film”Fitna”, (translated from Arabic to English to mean discord or strife), the Dutch government has braced itself for aggressive protests from Muslims across the globe in reaction to this widely perceived “anti-Islam” film by Freedom Party member Geert Wilders. Crisis meetings, security plans and the call for Dutch nationals overseas to hurriedly register with their embassies are all part and parcel of a federal security measure to minimize the liklihood of human casualty in response to this perceived, offending material toward Muslims and Islam. The Dutch parliament is also negotiating a call to ban the film, in an attempt to thwart off another wave of mass violence, similar to what was seen after the publishing of the Danish cartoons by Jyllands-Posten.
Mr. Wilders’ ten minute film reveals his unapologetic belief that the Qua’ran is a source of, or a manifesto for, intolerance, murder and terror. Much like the film “Submission” co-produced by Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali launched in 2004, the subject matter of this film also examines Islam’s historical propensity toward oppression, domination and the call for conversion by the sword.
From a purely creative point of view, Mr. Wilders (as was the late van Gogh), is entitled to produce a piece of work he believes to be an expression of his opinion. Although he was free to make the film, members of the Dutch Parliament now scramble to curtail it’s access for viewing and the public’s right to scrutinize the film by their own accord. Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen does no one a favor when he buckles to the threat of extremism and leftist lobby groups by claiming that freedom of expression does not include the right to offend. Of course it does; this marks the difference between fascist fanatical rule and critical, open reason. However, if that is his sentiment for the truth as we should have it, then perhaps the Louvre should be raided of all it’s offensive art that cause religious contortion and those works promptly removed from it’s walls.
The idea of this movie has already sent many Muslims to furious riots in Pakistan and Iran. Are we to brace ourselves for more burning cars, mayhem, rape and pillage in Paris, Stockholm, Madrid, Berlin or New York? Are we to see fire bombings of embassies around the world, an increased recruitment for global jihad, more graffitied slogans of ‘Death to America” or another slaughter of a film-maker with a martyrdom note stabbed into his chest?
This is a film. It is one man’s opinion of the Qua’ran and Islam. He doesn’t like Islamism and he has the right to express his opinion in a free democracy. If Muslims are offended to the point where they scope neighbourhoods screeching, torching, rioting and murdering as opposed to rational discourse then his film is accurate in it’s assertion. Bravo.
I would like to believe that the vaccuum between irrational extremism and secular freedom can be bridged by enthusiastic progressive Muslims within democracies, but there is little evidence of this. What I crave is for thinking and concerned people to challenge religious relativism and misguided cultural sensitivity as working, modern concepts in open territory. Timid governments create stifling legislation and erode fundamental freedoms. Fitna is one more opportunity to regain strength.