Mar 30, 2008 12:54 pm


It is easy to despair but is it necessary? I do not think so. For months the Dutch government braced itself and the media has been filled with predictions that a new wave of violence is going to flood the Muslim world in response to the release of Fitna, the movie. Muslim response to the Danish cartoons as well as general intolerance towards uncomfortable free speech, has justified concern. Indeed, there has been a concerted effort to prevent it's release.

Well, the movie has been released today. You can watch it here (no more, try here or here instead) and, so far so good:

While the release of a film branding Islam a violent religion has been widely condemned in the Netherlands there has been no angry backlash by Dutch Muslims, as some had feared. The short feature, by right-wing politician Geert Wilders, was published briefly on the internet last night.

A Muslim group has taken legal action against Wilders to prevent him comparing the Koran to Hitler's 'Mein Kampf'. There was a protest outside the parliament but no street disturbances of the kind security officials said might happen.

Islamic leaders also appealed for calm and urged mosques to open their doors to the public today. The Dutch government had worked for months before the film appeared to defuse Muslim anger over its theme.

Indeed, there is evidence that Muslim leaders are beginning to learn that the idea that Islam is a religion of peace cannot be sold effectively through violence and they are developing more peaceful strategies to counter attacks on their faith.

Legal action is one promising avenue as is developing competing films. Indeed, if you go to youtube to watch Wilder's trailer you will find amongst the list of related videos ones produced to counter Wielder's charges.

It is a beginning. Let's see if the pracitioners of the religion of peace will continue to keep it. In the meantime, here are some early reviews:

Bas Blokker writes in Not Hyperbole or Metaphor, but Repetition:

This rhetoric makes"Fitna" similar to a film like Al Gore's"An Inconvenient Truth," in which the former vice president hammers home his message that the earth is undergoing global warming and we must do something now. Another, less well-known example is"Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged," by a US evangelical group which wants to prove that JK Rowling's books are dangerous to children. The conclusion is the same as in Wilders' film: ban the books. Or as Wilders says at the end of his film: at least tear out the Koran verses which sow the most hate.

A roundup of the Dutch press response:

“A sense of relief over the ‘mildness’ of Fitna” is de Volkskrant’s front-page headline, a feeling which more or less sums up the reaction of the Dutch press to the anti-Qur’an film of populist politician Geert Wilders. “Wilders’ film is a lot less extreme than many had feared. No pages were torn out of the Qur’an, nor was the holy book set on fire. Most of the political reactions were negative, but there were many who breathed a sigh of relief.”

In other words, Wilders paid his cards right. He inoculated Muslims by not going as far as they feared he will go. They are learning to live with more freedon. Good.

UPDATE: I wrote too early. Death threats forced Livelink, the host of FITNA to remove the movie. You will find round up on the subject on Sultan Knish. It can be seen now Here and leave comments for Mr. Wilders here

An excellent discussion about the political ramifications of the film in Holland can be found here. Click on the radio line. The reporters seem to admire Wilders' success in building up interest in the movie and believe that he made the apologetic Dutch government seem weak. They agree that movie itself is well made but contains nothing to justify the pre-release hype. They believe trouble will be avoided in the Holland though it is too early to tell about the rest of the world. There, they sensibly say, much will depend on the interests of those who organize the so called"spontaneous" demonsterations.

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