A silver lining to the Dutch anti-Islam film “Fitna”

June 16, 2008

Logo for Fitna movieThere seems to have been a silver lining to the Dutch anti-Islam film “Fitna” that far-right PVV party leader Geert Wilders released in late March. We noted already the strife that many people feared didn’t materialise. Now the country’s National Coordinator for Counterterrorism says the long debate about the film actually brought Christian and Muslim groups closer together.

It said in the English translation of its latest report:

“The commotion surrounding the Fitna film appears to have resulted in overtures* between Christian and Islamic organisations. Several organisations with a Christian foundation have strongly criticised standpoints of the PVV parliamentary party chairman with respect to Islam and, together with Muslim organisations, are taking initiatives to reduce the social tensions in the Netherlands and abroad. Remarkable in this context is a collaboration between the World Council of Churches and the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (Protestanse Kerk in Nederland, PKN) on the one hand and the Muslims and the Government Liaison Committee (Contactorgaan Moslims en Overheid, CMO) and the Islam Contact Group (Contact Groep Islam, CGI) on the other hand. In March 2008 these organisations conducted a ‘reconciliation mission’ to Muslim organisations in Egypt to neutralise any detrimental effects of the film.”

*The Dutch original is actually a bit stronger. It says there has been a “toenadering” (rapprochement) between Christian and Muslim groups. “Overtures” implies an initiative towards cooperation without making clear that something happened, whereas rapprochement does. And, as the report made clear, something did happen.


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Muslims didn’t riot and kill so much this time, because they are hoping to use the UN and EU to ban free speech regarding any, whatesoever, critisicm of Islam and in turn free press in that regard as well.
I’d have to say they are making much progress in this regard, unfortunately.

Posted by Stephanie | Report as abusive

I would like to tell stephanie that muslims brought civilization to the world and it was done through Islam,
I do inviteher to become a muslim as well

Posted by muslim | Report as abusive

“free speech” by some in the west is used to malign Islam, Prophet(PBUH) and religious symbols. No one has the right to do so, If the west claims to be civilized and humane, first they should start respecting other reliongs, faith etc. Islam has no link to terrorism and Muslim majority is peaceful. That said no “free speech” should be allowed to make a mockery of Islam.

Posted by Umair Malik | Report as abusive

To Stephanie:

Well, apparently the Jews have not only hoped but actually succeeded to “ban free speech regarding any, whatesoever, critisicm of [sic]” *The Holocaust* “and in turn free press in that regard as well.”
Any criticism of the the Holocaust is banned and punishable by a prison term in most of Europe. Few examples of people fined or imprisoned for “denying the Holocaust” are David Irving, Ernst Zündel, Roger Garaudy, …..

I’d like to see your cries about “free speech in that regard”.

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive

[…] drops festival’s anti-racism message (Matthew Taylor The Guardian) A silver lining to the Dutch anti-Islam film “Fitna” (Tom Heneghan, FaithWorld) 42 days later (Rolled-up Trousers) Shaykh Pirzada condemns 42-day […]

Posted by Bigot Brother… « The Cultural Anarchlyst | Report as abusive

To Stephanie,

I certainly hope they ban you from publishing. Your little hate speech made no sense whatsoever…”in that regard”. Free speech comes with responsibility, a concept alien to you “in this regard”. I’m afraid your argument isn’t “making much progress unfortunately”. The UN and EU hope to tackle Islamaphobes like yourself, not the free press.

Posted by Nu’man El-Bakri | Report as abusive

Rather than bashing Islam or any religion for that matter look at it this way: every tree has its bad apples. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all have far-right radicals, the media just happens to publicize the Muslim side more due to the crises in the Near East and actions of groups out there such as Al-Qaeda.

I myself am Christian but am intelligent enough to understand that the Qur’an, the Torah, and the Bible and all of its players shouldn’t be critcized to the point where it is going to offend (if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!). I believe in free speech to the fullest, but I believe that it falls on our shoulders on knowing where to draw the line because depending on who is listening, there might be unwelcomed consequences whether you like it or not. Unfortunately that is the reality. Until we open our minds wider and know what is appropriate to say and when to say it, these incidents will continue to plague our world for years to come.

Its all a matter of not being an idiot (example: Geert Wilders).

Posted by Jake | Report as abusive

After Jake’s poignant remarks, I really do not have much to add, except to say that I am grateful that muslims in the Netherlands and the rest of Dutch society decided not to give credence to Wilders’ awful film and instead work together harder in inter-faith dialogue, as it should be in any civilized society, instead of spreading ignorant bigotry under the lofty-sounding excuse of Free Speech, a term sadly distorted and used out of context as certain persons in this blog do. I’m glad I’m not one of them.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

Under the context of ‘free speach’ Mr Wilder was able to put forward his stereotypical view of Muslims,clearly showing the world his ignorant one-sided view on the subject. (Like many other ignorant Christians/ Muslims / Jews/Hindus etc etc, on people of a religion/race/colour different to themselves.) As Jake put it, it is knowning what is appropriate. I certainly believe in standing up for your rights and voicing your opinions. However to be able to show basic common decency and basic common sense while doing so is a skill many are without because of ignorance. One example is knowning that you have put your ‘foot in your mouth’ then knowing to remove it and having the maturity to apologise for any offence it may have caused. Not necessarily ‘bowing down’ but showning basic common courtesy and basic respect for a fellow being. It is sad how such ‘basics’ are beyond comprehension for some….

Posted by Conscientious Observer | Report as abusive

Someone, please, correct me if I’m mistaken, but wasn’t there a $1 million bounty offered by a Pakistani imam? And, wasn’t it against “the Danish cartoonist” (even though there were 12, but maybe that’s a translation error) for drawing a CARTOON? I wonder, has 1984 been translated into Arabic?

And today, there’s a story about a man receiving the death penalty for blasphemy against the prophet.

Certainly, the “West” has its share of hypocrisy, but let’s not for a moment work under the delusion that the Islamic world has a corner on the market in civility.

Posted by J Cipolla | Report as abusive

Things such as those mentioned by J Cipolla seem completely backwards to those of us in the West, but its what those cultures teach their members from day one.

I agree that its terrible to offer a reward on someone’s head for a cartoon and that a man was sentenced to death for blasphemy; Europe went through a similar stage in medieval times. Its hard for us to comprehend the way that their societies function unless we’re a part of it or have experienced it ourselves.

It will be a great day when we can all open up to each other and live in peace, but such a day is a long way off for all parties involved.

Posted by Jake | Report as abusive

being a true muslim, i condemn the acts of 911
and the spilling of innocent blood,
therefore i condemn the killing of palestinians
and that of the israeli civillians.

the aterocities done by these lunatics no muslim will ever justify,
they don’t understand islam’s message, here’s the reason why:

Islam DOES NOT allow misuse of the term ‘Jihad’,
nor does the holy Quran orders it’s followers to kill,
holy quran is a poem, easy to misunderstand,
jihad is the term given to the struggle not against humans but the devil.

not all muslims are terrorists, and the fact that all terrorists are muslims is not true.
none were muslims hitler ‘history’s greatest murderer’, Joseph Stalin ,Mugabe nor was the dictator of peru.

just the description of the holocaust terrifies me,
so how angry would you feel if it were justified or denied?
that’s exactly how the muslims felt when the prophet was derided.

terrorists abuse islam to justify their antics,
this merely fuelles the fire raging in the minds of those lunatics,
no, i am not saying that we should give up our freedom of speech because of such people,
but an intellegent person seeks the cause of the problem rather then the ensuing trouble.

i agree with jake “It will be a great day when we can all open up to each other and live in peace”,
it can be today, if we just end our ignorance.

Posted by Anees | Report as abusive

Kashmiri Hindus were butchered by Muslims in Kashmir and 3,50,000 were forced to leave Kashmir and are now languishing in camps.

check out

http://refugees-in-their-own-country.blo gspot.com/

What do you say to this Anees…?

Posted by Aslam Durani | Report as abusive