Is another “West-versus-Islam” clash on the horizon?
Two Dutch politicians seem to be doing their best to stir up a controversy with Muslims. The far-right MP Geert Wilders says he wants to make a film for television about the Koran. Ehsan Jami, an Iranian-born local councillor who launched a Committee of Ex-Muslims in September, plans a film called “The Life of Mohammad.” Both are due to be ready early next year.
Are we in for another “free-speech-versus-blasphemy” (or, to put it more bluntly, “West-versus-Islam”) clash?
Wilders, who has compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and called for it to be banned, says he only wants to express his opinions. “It is not my intention to offend people. I just want to illustrate my opinions, which I have expressed as a member of parliament,” he said. “If people do feel offended, that is a shame, but it is not my problem.” The Dutch justice and foreign ministers have met him to discuss the risks to himself and Dutch interests abroad if he makes the film. Jami says his film will “stir up more dust than the Danish Mohammad cartoons,” according to an interview with him in the Amsterdam daily De Telegraaf. “I show how violent and tyrannical Mohammad was. This man murdered three Jewish tribes, killed people who left the faith and married a 6-year-old girl, with whom he had sex when she was 9 … I will give 50,000 euros to anyone who can refute these facts.”
Is this a train crash just waiting to happen? Has anybody learned anything from the Dutch and Danish cases? Should anybody take precautions to prevent a clash — and if so, who should take which ones?