Fitna?

So Geert Wilder’s video Fitna has finally been released onto the internet. And what a reaction there has been.

Network Solutions pulled the site that was supposed to be hosting the film. Techcrunch is worried that Google might experience a “Muslim backlash”. Live Leak, who originally hosted the film, have now pulled it down because of “credible threats”. The Singaporean government has condemned it. The UAE government has condemned it. The Council of Europe has spoken out against it. Afghanistan has expressed concern. Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir has said Malay Muslims are annoyed by it and is calling for a worldwide boycott of Dutch products. Indonesia has condemned it. The OIC naturally condemns it too.

That’s a lot of government and official condemnation for a 17 minute film on Youtube. However, rather than the riots and rivers of blood that the pre-release marketing led us to believe would be the natural consequence of Wilders’ little film, the response from actual Muslims has been, well, not much of a response at all.

As far as such things go, Wilder’s film is quite a weak effort. It’s unlikely to provoke anyone to anything except, perhaps, fall asleep or yawn. Wilders has simply taken various photos and videos of Muslims doing or saying bad or outrageous things (that already exist on the internet at places like MEMRI anyway), thrown in some headlines from Dutch papers, some verses from the Qu’ran, some statistics on Muslim immigration and population growth, and finally added some spooky-sounding music to give, I suppose, gravitas to the whole thing.

The thing that strikes me more than its offensiveness is its lack of originality. Wilders, apparently unable to come up with a suitably offensive shtick of his own, attempts to ride on the coattails of the Danish cartoons; appropriating one of their cartoons — without permission — and using that to start and close his video. He’s now being sued for that. He used footage from an interview with Theo van Gogh without permission. And the owner of that footage is considering legal action too. Where he was original — perhaps too original — was in using the photo of a Dutch-Moroccan rapper instead of a terrorist. He’s now being threatened with legal action for that. Fitna is proving to be more of a fitna for Mr Wilders than for anyone else.

And, as for the content, then, of course, Muslims have done some terrible things in the past and the threat of terrorism is very real and must be confronted by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. However, Wilders’ message isn’t directed at that minority of Muslims who carry out or threaten terrorist attacks but at all Muslims: he views all Muslims as being the “problem”. By doing so, he is intentionally seeking to smear the vast majority of Muslims who find terrorism and violence every bit as abhorrent as the average European non-Muslim; and have, contrary to what some people like to allege, been condemning terrorism every time it has occurred. This is completely counter-productive.

In his comments on Andrew Bolt’s blog, Shibli Zaman makes this point very eloquently and points out the fact that, despite having a large number of Muslims, the United States does not have any issues whatsoever with its domestic Muslim population; which suggests that whatever challenges Europe may face are not the result of the religiousness of their Muslim population but other factors (most notably the welfare state and rigid labour market policies that keep new entrants excluded and therefore alienated). Interestingly, although some of these European “liberals” are very happy demanding that Muslims liberalise their social attitudes, they rarely seem interested in economic liberalisation and making the necessary adjustments that would have a far more appreciable effect than heckling and complaining.

Wilders is not immune to this curious hypocrisy. On the one hand, he and his supporters have rejected the wrongheaded calls for Fitna to be banned; arguing, quite rightly, that freedom of speech and expression must be protected (even if that speech offends some members of society). And yet, on the other hand, a key component of Wilder’s “final solution” to the European Muslim question, is to ban the Qu’ran because he doesn’t like its content.

23 comments ↓

#1 ‘Fitna’ farce « pixelisation on 03.30.08 at 5:19 am

[...] Reviews you might want to read: Ali Eteraz Aziz Poonawalla Leon in Amsterdam (via JD) Amir Butler [...]

#2 Ijtema » Blog Archive » Geert Wilders’ “Fitna” - Muslim Reviews on 03.30.08 at 11:09 am

[...] Austrolabe also presents some interesting legal ramifications of “Fitna” within its own …: As far as such things go, Wilder’s film is quite a weak effort. It’s unlikely to provoke anyone to anything except, perhaps, fall asleep or yawn. […] The thing that strikes me more than its offensiveness is its lack of originality. Wilders, apparently unable to come up with a suitably offensive shtick of his own, attempts to ride on the coattails of the Danish cartoons; appropriating one of their cartoons — without permission — and using that to start and close his video. He’s now being sued for that. He used footage from an interview with Theo van Gogh without permission. And the owner of that footage is considering legal action too. Where he was original — perhaps too original — was in using the photo of a Dutch-Moroccan rapper instead of a terrorist. He’s now being threatened with legal action for that. Fitna is proving to be more of a fitna for Mr Wilders than for anyone else. [...]

#3 [email protected] on 03.30.08 at 11:12 am

Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah
I pray that you are in the best of health & imaan.
This is a short message to notify you that this entry has been selected for publishing on IJTEMA.net, a venture to highlight the best of the Muslim blogosphere. Please visit the site to find out more about our initiative.
May Allah bless you for your noble efforts.
Wa’salam

#4 muslimmatters.org » Fitna? on 03.30.08 at 1:11 pm

[...] (This is cross-posted from Austrolabe) [...]

#5 Suhaib Jobst on 03.30.08 at 2:32 pm

The best way for the Muslims to handle such situations is simply to ignore them. Reacting in the way like some did with the Rushdie incident and then the Danish cartoons, were counterproductive and actually brought more favorable attention to the thing one opposes.

Rather if we were to simply ignore this obvious self-serving move by a well-known demagogue who has based his entire career on Islamophobia, then no one would even remember his name – much less the movie – a few months from now, insha’Allah.

#6 Rafiq on 03.31.08 at 1:42 am

As-Salaam-Alaikum,

What Fitna says if anything– more than any other “political message”– is the vitriol that the Dutch have toward Muslims there, which can be seen by the rather dismayingly high levels of support that Fitna (and certainly other more “genteel” Muslim-hating works of art) has among the Dutch people. I thought the French were bad enough in their anti-Muslim stupidity, but the Dutch and the Belgians are even worse. The Muslim communities there are besieged and exhausted, and the young people leave the Muslim faith at an alarming rate, never to return. I would never want to be a Muslim there. Every time I make a business trip to Holland/Belgium, Germany, France, I get depressed because of the tremendous malaise and loss of identity that I see in the young Muslim community– one that is rapidly disappearing. I don’t know that the majority of Dutch and Belgians are anti-Muslim bigots (I doubt that they are), but there are enough of them, teeming in the Low Countries, combined with other structural problems in those societies, that our people are doomed by staying there.

Honestly, I’ve been working very hard recently, to convince my fellow Muslim friends in the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as in Germany, France and Sweden, to emigrate to another Western country, where our community is able to flourish– especially to Australia, Canada or England, but also to Michigan in the USA, one of the heartlands of Islam in the West. (I do *not* agree with Shibli Zaman, at all, that Muslims in the USA are in some kind of Shangri-La compared to Europe– American Islamophobes are as bad as Dutch ones– but the difference is that again, like in Australia and England, the Muslim community in Michigan, USA has real political power in a multicultural society. So we’re able to flourish in Michigan as a people, just as our Muslim cousins to the north, in Ontario, Canada, are able to thrive.)

Again, it’s not that the people in these countries are necessarily much friendlier– there are plenty of anti-Muslim racist idiots in the UK and Australia– but the governments’ official policies in these countries encourage multiculturalism, and their political structure is such that the young Muslim organizations there have real political power.

I’ve been to Australia, Canada and England, and the Muslims in those countries are robust and have a real impact in their societies while building their numbers and strength, thanks to the multicultural environment and their organization. They’re able to rapidly build mosques, and fight back effectively against anti-Muslim racists and Islamophobes on the street or demagoguing in the government. Our community has a real future there.

In contrast, the Muslim societies in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Sweden are slowly perishing, and the young people are ripped from their heritage.

It’s not necessarily because of hostility either– while the Dutch, Belgians and French people really do hate Muslims to a large extent, and Islamophobia there is rife, the Germans and Swedes have been very polite and kind to us, more so than even the English and Australians have been.

But German and Swedish societies are both awful places to be an observant Muslim in any form. They’re horrendously corrosive to religious faith in general, especially the Muslim belief system– something about those countries’ social structure, I can’t quite explain it, but it’s definitely left a generation of “lost boys and girls” among the young Muslim communities there. It’s just not a good place to raise a Muslim family– despite the hostility of many English and Australians against us, we have the power and organization there, not to mention the cultural strength, to reinforce ourselves.

IOW, for Muslims who live in the West, I’d strongly recommend the following countries as top places for our people to live:

1. Australia
2. Canada
3. England
4. New Zealand (small but healthy)
5. USA (in some parts– Michigan in particular is practically a heartland for our people!)

I would strongly recommend that Muslims, and especially young Muslim families, move out of the (for us) cultural wastelands in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Finland, Norway and Denmark, and move to one of the five countries above.

It’ll do us a lot of good, and ensure the survival of our communities in Western countries!

#7 Yusuf Smith on 03.31.08 at 6:35 am

As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

Migration to the US or Canada is simply not an option for most of the Muslims living in Europe. There are several million Muslims in the countries which are afflicted by official anti-Muslim policy and general prejudice and there is no way they could all migrate to the less hostile European countries like the UK and Austria, let alone to Canada. A few people could emigrate but not large numbers of the Muslims in Europe.

#8 Julaybib on 03.31.08 at 8:08 am

Making sweeping generalisations about national cultures is to adopt a perspective of the anti-Muslim right. Netherlands, for example, is home to ISIM, which is an excellent international Islamic Studies resource. And isn’t it more Muslim to stay and fight for justice?

As for the US – they wouldn’t even let Yusuf Islam or Tariq Ramadan in!

Perhaps the UK is a good place for Muslims because we are increasingly participating as citizens. Germany is now working to develop a coherent National Muslim voice (see alt.Muslim). Rather than moving to the Uk or wherever, which seems rather drastic and impractical, perhaps other European Muslims might do better to emulate our achievements.

#9 Eudaemonion on 03.31.08 at 11:46 am

What is it about the Anglophone countries?

#10 Hasan on 03.31.08 at 12:22 pm

The culture of the Anglophone countries is very different. Just look at the Common Law system and compare that with the law that these Europeans live by. Their attitudes are different. They think nothing of carrying ID cards but this remains a big issue for us in the Anglosphere.

#11 Ahmad on 03.31.08 at 2:07 pm

I disagree that ignoring these sorts of provactions is the best course of action. Reacting like violent fools is also to be rejected. I believe that Islamically it is better to respond, but in a calm and rational manner; whether that be by organised peaceful demonstrations, or intellectual contributions to the debate. Ignoring completely is to show weakness.

#12 George Carty on 03.31.08 at 6:24 pm

Hasan, what do you think of those Muslims (eg John Maqdisi) who argue that some crucial components of the Anglosphere’s common-law system were actually cribbed from the Shari’ah (during the reign of King Henry II, and by way of Norman Sicily)?

#13 G-man on 03.31.08 at 6:25 pm

Holding protests to demand the silence of your critics quite rightly makes more people suspicious of your motives. And frankly, the attempts by some Muslim countries to silence freedom of speech on religions through the United Nations is only going to bring more critics out of the woodwork, despite the cowardice of the media currently caving in to threats of violence over Fitna.

The response to “these sorts of provocations” is surely to demonstrate that they are untrue, if indeed that is the case. If, in fact, what this rather badly made film says about the Quran is untrue, then the answer is to demonstrate that it is untrue, remembering that actions always speak louder than words.

#14 Abu Bakr on 04.01.08 at 12:46 am

See also the comments at Closer, from Martijn:
http://religionresearch.org/ma.....propaganda

#15 Abu Omar on 04.01.08 at 8:40 am

@ Yusuf Smith,

Brother, Robert Spencer is upset with you for bashing his favorite new blockbuster: http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/020509.php

#16 Eudaemonion on 04.01.08 at 11:55 pm

I really do find it refreshing, being told exactly what constitutes my religion and the religion of my East African forbears by a bunch of people resolutely committed to opposing it as an insidious ‘cult’.

Most successful and longest lasting cult, if you ask me. That is, assuming that Mullah Spencer and his Dar al Uloom, North Carolina, are on the money here.

#17 Asif on 04.05.08 at 7:43 pm

Comments on “Dutch movie FITNA” released by a Dutch MP.

* If you see the movie FITNA by an open mind/eyes, you clearly see, the mind/thinking working behind this is only hate of an individual against Islam.

* The film maker picked the verses of Quran out of context and tried to develop hate to Islam among innocent people of other faiths by joining the video effects/clips.
Producer tried to play with innocent hearts by joining video clips like, Twin Tower attack clips, with verses.
I AM ASKING YOU PEOPLE, SHOULD ANY MUSLIM MAKE A MOVIE LIKE THIS “FITNA” AND JOINS THE TEACHING OF “BIBLE” WITH THE PICTURES/VIDEOS OF US ATTACK ON IRAQ/AFGHANISTAN……AND TRY TO PROVE THE SAME AS IN “FITNA”? SURE…..NO. THERE IS NO ANY MUSLIM IN THIS WORLD WHO CAN THINK TO COMMENT THE PROPHET JESUS AND HIS TEACHINGS. IF ANY DOES THIS, HE IS NOT A MUSLIM AT ALL, MAY BE HIS NAME IS LIKE OF MUSLIMS.

* In this movie, speeches of Politician doesn’t mean that it is the sayings of Islam. and individuals’ act don’t mean the sayings of Islam.

Quran Says: “ONE WHO SAVES THE LIVE OF ANY INNOCENT HUMAN IS AS HE SAVES THE WHOLE HUMANITY”

We believe in “FREEDOM OF SPEECH” but with responsibility. By this kind of so called FREEDOM, actually you are hearting the millions of people. In humanity, freedom should be constructive, not for promote the hate in society/world.

More Important: MUSLIMS ARE VERY SENSITIVE TO THE HOLY QURAN and ALL PROPHETS INCLUDING MUHAMMAD, JESUS, DAVID, MOSIS and all others.

I personally feel, the act of Dutch MP is based on hate to Muslims. Not only for Muslims but he is also against his society and country. His Movie will work as a fire in the society of Netherlands as well as in between thousands of Muslims and Christians in the world.

May God/Allah help us to live with peace.

#18 Farhat Aziz on 04.24.08 at 1:41 pm

Aslim wa Alikum,
Holland has been very involved for the work of Orientalist,s about Quran and criticism on Muslims as reknown “Encyclopaedia of Islam” published from LIEDEN in 1986. There must be intert faith diologue in this regrd among Muslims or Non Muslims. The Imam e Kaabah as a representative of Muslims and Pop from Christian n other leaders must be called at the plateform of U.N.O for permoting the diologue, harmony,plurastic society and co-existance agreements for the controll of biased situations in the World. thanx

#19 Eudaemonion on 04.24.08 at 11:26 pm

Take it easy on the capital letters Asif!

#20 antish on 04.25.08 at 1:18 am

Gosh, for a few minutes I was nearly sucked into bleak world of the Zealot and actually thought that maybe there might be some cause to be concerned about the content of a video – any video. Then, luckily, I came to my senses. People! It’s the opinion of ONE PERSON! It ought not affect you in any way at all! The extent to which it does affect you is a measure of your psychological problems! Get OVER this paranoia already!

#21 Asif on 04.29.08 at 9:13 pm

Pakistan Lawmaker to Make Counter Fitna Film

A Pakistani lawmaker, Babar Awan, won’t make a film to counter the jihadists, or convince Muslims not to wage jihad, or to let woman be treated as equals, or challenge any other aspect of Islam. Instead, he’ll make a movie to counter Geert Wilders’ Fitna. Why spend any time convincing Muslims of their misunderstandings and un-Islamic behavior when defending Islam’s honor is at stake?

The last sentence of this article might have been better served up first: “Insulting the Quran or Muhammad is punishable by death under Pakistani law.”

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: A Pakistani lawmaker said Sunday he will fund a movie to rebut an anti-Quran film made by a Dutch politician that has drawn strong condemnation in the Islamic world.

The Dutch movie — “Fitna” or “ordeal” in Arabic — juxtaposes verses from Islam’s holy book with images of the terror attacks on New York, Madrid and elsewhere, and shows footage of imams saying Islam should dominate the world.

Pakistani Sen. Babar Awan said his film will “answer the malicious propaganda.”

“This film will show Quran’s world view. This film will show Quran’s concept of humanity. This film will show how important human life is,” Awan said at a news conference.

The 15-minute film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, which appeared on the Internet on March 27, triggered angry street protests in Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as calls in other countries to boycott Dutch goods.

The Dutch government has disagreed with the harsh tone of Wilders’ movie but said the lawmaker has a constitutional right to express his views.

Wilders has said he’s entitled to air his opinions on “the danger and threat of Islam to our country and the West.”

Awan accused the Dutch film of labeling all Muslims terrorists, calling it “misleading, non-representative and very shallow.”

He said Islamic scholars have written the script for his movie and that shooting will start soon and take about 100 days to finish.

The film, which has not been named, will be in English, Arabic and Urdu — Pakistan’s main language. It will be released in cinemas at the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic fasting month, likely in September, Awan said.

Awan did not say how much the movie will cost.

Wary of a backlash against the Dutch film, the Dutch embassy in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, has moved to a highly guarded five-star hotel for security reasons.

Violent protests also erupted in Pakistan after European newspapers published cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in 2006. One of the drawings show Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban.

#22 Islam means peace on 05.16.08 at 1:03 am

wow…what a freedom of speech!

Tomorrow you want any Muslim to make a 15- min film against Christianity or Jesus???? Would you then call it ‘Freedom of Speech’ ?

But of course, no Muslim would do that. It is because our religion does not allow that.We believe in all previous Messengers including Jesus, and all of them are held in equal esteem. Our religion does not permit us to carry out even the smallest of measures against any religion or its followers.

Now who teaches peace?? Isn’t it the Quran? Isn’t it ALLAH? Isn’t it Islam??
i advise this Wilders to get his knowledge right!

#23 Club Troppo » Missing Link Daily on 07.09.08 at 1:00 pm

[...] Geert Wilders’ anti-Muslim film, Fitna, arrived on the web on Friday. Broken Left Leg is unimpressed with Andrew Bolt’s publication of the film, and Bolt’s avowed reasons for publishing. Amir at Austrolabe thinks all the fuss is just a storm in a demi-tasse: [...]

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