Far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders posted a controversial anti-Qur’an documentary on a video-sharing website on Thursday, March 27, despite attempts from the government to dissuade him and criticism from Muslims and Christians alike.
The film, entitled “Fitna,” an Arabic word for sedition or strife, starts with a Danish cartoon showing a man described as Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) with a ticking bomb in his turban.
It then shows a page from the Noble Qur’an on the right and a translation of one specific verse on the left.In the following scene, the Qur’an page is replaced by a plane hitting the New York World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, while the verse remains on the left.
This is followed by chaotic scenes in the streets of New York and images and sound-bites from phone calls to the emergency services on that day.
Similar segments follow the same pattern linking verses from the Qur’an to attacks such as the 2004 Madrid train bombing, the 2005 London bombing, the attack on US soldiers in Somalia a decade ago, the murder of Dutch director Theo van Gogh in 2004 and beheadings in Iraq.
The 15-minute ends with someone turning a page of the Qur’an, with a sound of tearing at the background.
“The sound you heard was from a page being removed from the phonebook,” says a text that appears on the screen.
“For it is not up to me, but to Muslims themselves to tear out the hateful verses from the Qur’an,” it goes on.
“Stop Islamization. Defend our freedom,” reads the text before the tickling bomb in the alleged prophet cartoon explodes and the screen turns black with the sound of thunder.
Broadcasting the controversial film on the internet came after Dutch private and state channels decided not to show it.
A US-based web service has also suspended the site originally dedicated for displaying the documentary after receiving Muslim complaints.
Dutch news media reported that the government has seen the film, but there was no immediate reaction.
The government has reportedly distanced itself from Wilder’s views and tried unsuccessfully to convince him not to broadcast the film.
It sent earlier this week a written letter to the Cairo-based Al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni world, to the same effect.
“Wilders does not represent the opinion of the Dutch government on this issue. Nor does his concept of Islam represent the perspective or policy of the Dutch government in any way,” it said.
The government pointed out that all people in the Netherlands have the right to express their opinions without the prior consent of the authorities.
“This is one of the most valued rights in Dutch society, enshrined in the Dutch Constitution. The person exercising this freedom however has the responsibility for how it is exercised.”
The government has vowed to review the film once it has been made public.
“The government will investigate whether Mr Wilders has committed a criminal offence; the Public Prosecution Service will decide about prosecution.”
A joint delegation from the Council of Churches and Muslim organizations in the Netherlands is touring Muslim countries to express their condemnation.
“It is reprehensible when that which is sacred in our religions is ridiculed and our faith offended,” they said in a joint statement.
“We therefore strongly reject all contempt and slander aimed at the Qur’an and the prophet Muhammad, just as we would not wish this with regard to the Bible and the Christian faith.”
Dutch Muslim leaders have vowed a calm and wise handling of the crisis.
They have urged the minority, which makes up one million of the country’s 16 million population, not to pay heed to a “third-class” politician like Wilders.
They have also decided to open mosques to non-Muslims to wash away the misconceptions propagated by Wilders and his alike.