A FITNA FILM
Another European has done it again. Anti-immigration right-wing Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, has made a15 minute film called Fitna (defamation) which features violent imagery of terrorist attacks in New York and Madrid set against passages from the Quran that are distorted and taken out of context. The film has been posted on internet sites.
The film is indeed a fitna against Islam and the truth. It deliberately attempts to project the Quran as a scripture that justifies and legitimizes terrorism and violence perpetrated against innocent civilians. This is a calumny against the Quran which warns against wanton violence and prohibits aggression.
While fitna is being posted on internet, a theatre in Potsdam, Germany is planning to stage a play based on Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses which also misrepresents the Quran and Muslim history and had provoked Muslim reactions almost 20 years ago. A few weeks ago, the Western media gave a lot of publicity to Pope Benedict XVI baptizing a former Muslim journalist from Egypt during Easter. In 2007, the Pope had delivered a lecture in which he gave a distorted interpretation to the Prophet Muhammad's mission. In 2006, a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad linking him to bombs and terror. A number of other newspapers and magazines followed the Danish example. Earlier this year, some Danish newspapers republished those offensive cartoons.
Why is the Quran, why is the Prophet, targeted in this manner? Is it just Islam that is under attack? Isn't it true that Jesus has also been vilified through films and books? In fact, damning and defaming religion in general is the pastime of a segment of secular Europe. Among religions, the targeting of Islam appears to be more systematic and consistent.
There is a reason for this. It is part of the drive by the centers of power in the West to impose their hegemony over the Muslim world. As we have pointed out so often in the past, control over oil and strategic sea-lanes, the majority of which border Muslim countries, is the motivating force. However, to establish this control and dominance, the centers of power also have to target Islam and its followers. Islam has often served as the ideological inspiration for resistance to Western hegemony. This is why hegemonic forces have invariably sought to malign the religion in order to destroy resistance to their control and dominance.
Predictably, a number of Muslim governments and religious leaders have issued statements condemning the film. The Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference(OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, has described the film as "incitement for hatred and an act of defamation of religions, solely intended to provoke unrest and intolerance among people of different religious beliefs." UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, also condemned the airing of Fitna _ "in the strongest terms" and added that "there is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence." The Dutch government, it should also be emphasized, has distanced itself from the Wilders' film.
Muslims in different parts of the world have been holding demonstrations to protest against the film. So far no acts of destructive violence have been reported. It is important that protests remain peaceful. Otherwise, Muslims would be playing into the hands of those who are hell-bent on portraying Islam and Muslims as violence prone.
More than organizing protests, the substantial Muslim population in the Netherlands should mobilize resources and produce films that tell the truth about the Quran, the Prophet, and Muslim history. These films should be shown in the cinemas and posted on internet. There should be an honest and sincere attempt to discuss and understand violence in different religions and societies. The Dutch people should be made aware that there are references to violence in most scriptures --- the Torah and the Talmud; the old and new Testaments; the Quran and the Hadiths; the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. What one should not do is to take them out of context, distort and misinterpret them.
There has also been a proposal by the former Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, to boycott Dutch products. It is worth considering. Middle and high income Muslim countries import a lot of food stuffs from the Netherlands. However, for a global boycott to succeed there should be careful planning, organization, mobilization and monitoring. As an immediate measure, it may be more feasible for Muslim governments to subject to a thorough review all current projects and contracts with Dutch companies. Both a consumer boycott and a review would serve to persuade Dutch citizens that it is in their own interest to isolate and insulate Islam baiters or other types of racists like Geert Wilders.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
30 March 2008.
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