February 10, 2009 - by Andrew Ian Dodge
Whether or not you have heard of Fitna or the man who made it, Geert Wilders, you will probably be shocked about the latest developments in efforts to muzzle the man and his film.
The Dutch filmmaker faces constant death threats in his native land for daring to examine the contents of the Koran and point out that it’s not always the caring document it is made out to be. His film has been banned and wildly condemned by Muslims all over the world for its portrayal of the words in the Koran.
Much like the murders of Pim Fortuin and Theo van Gogh, Wilders’ case has been a cause célèbre for those who wish to preserve freedom of speech for all. Wilders is on the very front line in the battle for free expression all over Europe.
In his home country he is being prosecuted (many say persecuted) by the authorities for expressing his views on Islam and its rise in Europe.
In Britain he was asked to speak by a member of the House of Lords, Lord Pearson, only to have Lord Ahmed threaten the body with civil unrest if Wilders did indeed speak. As part of this speaking engagement, there was also going to be a viewing of an English version of Fitna. Melanie Phillips reports what happened next:
But various representatives of the British Muslim community protested; and Lord Ahmed issued a threat that he would personally mobilize 10,000 Muslims to prevent Wilders from entering the Upper House and would take the peer organizing the event to court. In the face of such threats, the meeting was canceled.
Wilders has been banned from Britain and threatened with arrest if he tries to come into the country. So much for free travel thanks to EU membership, right? MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Dan Hannan had this to say on the matter:
But what I think of him is neither here nor there. Freedom means the freedom to express any opinion, however eccentric, however offensive. The Dutch foreign minister, a political opponent of Mr. Wilders, has complained to David Miliband. Good for him. Whether our government is actuated by cowardice or authoritarianism, it’s equally ugly. We are a meaner country than we were this morning.
Lord Pearson’s press release has this to say on the potential arrest of Wilders if he tries to enter the UK:
Despite threats of demonstration from a British Peer and Muslim community leaders, the meeting will go ahead. Wilders’ film Fitna features verses from the Quran alongside images of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001, Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. The film equates Islam’s holy text with violence and ends with a call to Muslims to remove “hate preaching” verses from the Quran. It provoked protests in Muslim-majority countries including Indonesia and Pakistan.
The entire event has become a tug of war between members of the House of Lords who believe in freedom of speech and those who don’t. Lord Pearson has called the bluff of the British establishment, which seeks to avoid controversy and any possible offense to the Islamic minority.
The following is from the letter banning Wilders:
The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the Secretary of State is of the view that your presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society. The Secretary of State is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK.
This incident not only demonstrates the depth to which Muslims will go to quell any criticism of their faith. It also reveals the farcical nature of the free society that once was Britain. We have been reading reports of the subsuming of majority rights all over the continent, and we now see that the UK is under the same grip of fear of offending Islam.
Needless to say, Wilders, not afraid of arrest, will fly to Heathrow as planned, daring them to detain him when he lands in the UK.
Do yourself a favor and view Fitna. Then judge for yourself if its such a great threat that the man behind it needs to have his freedom of expression curtailed and his life threatened.
Andrew Ian Dodge blogs at Dodgeblogium.