Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Freedom Of Speech Upheld For Geert Wilders

From this source, on April 7, 2008:
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - A Dutch lawmaker who sparked protests across the Muslim world with a film criticizing the Quran is entitled to express his anti-Islamic views, a court ruled Monday, rejecting a request to muzzle him.

The court ruled that the views expressed by right-wing legislator Geert Wilders did not exceed the legal boundaries against inciting hatred or violence.

The Netherlands Islamic Federation withdrew its petition to ban Wilders' film "Fitna" after it appeared on the Internet March 27, the day before the case was heard in a heavily guarded courtroom. The movie, linking terror attacks by Muslim extremists with texts from Islam's holy book, triggered angry street protests in Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, and calls in other countries to boycott Dutch goods.

But the federation still asked the Hague District Court to order Wilders to stop making statements "in writing, on film or spoken" that are deemed insulting to Muslims, and to apologize for statements he has made repeatedly in the past. Wilders has called the Quran a fascist book and compared it to Hitler's "Mein Kampf."

In a written judgment published Monday, the court said Wilders' right to free speech and role as a politician allow him to voice his criticisms of radical Islam and the Quran.

As a lawmaker, Wilders "must be able to — sometimes in sharp terms — express his opinions," the judgment said. "In this context, it cannot be said that (Wilders') statements — even though provocative — are an incitement to hate or violence against Muslims."
Caroline Webb, in this article in the Middle East Times, has posed this list of questions which Fitna: The Movie raised in her mind:
1) Should Geert Wilders be living under a death threat for speaking up about the problem of death threats and actual murders being committed on a large-scale in the name of Islam?

2) Should Web hosting companies (and all other media companies) be threatened to the point that was done with Live Leak, and which caused Network Solutions to deny the film a space on its servers?

3) Should Muslim leaders be doing more to condemn the practice of death threats, suicide bombings everywhere in the world, murders on the streets of Europe such as that of Theo van Gogh?

4) Should Muslims in Europe be doing more to betray those who are betraying Islam and hand over to the police authorities rabid clerics and others who are fomenting hatred and zeal for inflicting more suffering on Western society – and who use the Koran to incite their audience?
In my view, those questions are the important subtext of Fitna: The Movie.

Caroline Webb goes on to say in her reflections on the film:
These are the questions that I want to see more discussion of and more action on. Even the photograph in the online article about "Fitna" in the Middle East Times, showing an effigy of Wilders being burnt, indicates the double standards at work. Who is speaking to the crowd working itself into a frenzy of hatred and violence, and is able to say to them that this behavior is exactly what "Fitna" is critiquing? Where is the leadership leading people away from their worst and weakest and most destructive side towards something better?

"Fitna" may be criticized for appearing to tar all Muslims with the same brush and that certainly does make it weak. I don't agree with that presentation, as it is grossly unfair. But I think its goal is to raise the question of internal self-regulation of extremism. It is holding up a mirror, composed of real footage from recent years, and asking hard questions about theology and morality in today's necessarily pluralistic world.
Instead of asking the hard questions, however, Western leaders and the mainstream media have done their best to ignore Fitna: The Movie, much in the manner of the government and the media in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, a futuristic novel about a dystopia in which censorship became the norm because the people simply did not want to face reality, compose analytical thoughts, or find solutions; instead, they wanted to be happy in their ignorance.

It's easier, after all, in the Twenty-first Century not to think too much about the Islamic threat.


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posted by Always On Watch @ 4/09/2008 06:48:00 AM