Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Fitna Update

As a commenter pointed out, Geert Wilders' film Fitna has again been removed from LiveLeak. This time, by Wilders himself due to copyright issues. This is almost certainly because of the film's inclusion of the most controversial of the Danish Muhammed Cartoons. The cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, has criticized Fitna and objected to Wilders's use of his drawing.

In the meantime, the March 31 Wall Street Journal had an excellent op-ed piece on the meaning and implications of this latest incident in Islamism's war on intellectual freedom. The author, Afshin Ellian, is an exiled Iranian and strong critic of radical Islam living in the Netherlands. His essay is well worth reading. Here is a preview:

The Western world long ago learned to criticize, even mock, religion. Think of such movies as "The Life of Brian" and "The Da Vinci Code" or more serious texts on Christianity by Nietzsche, whose famous phrase "God is Dead" is part of popular culture. Competition of ideas is fundamental to the Western way of life. The Islamic world isn't accustomed to such discussions.


When Ms. Hirsi Ali went to live in the U.S. in 2006, Geert Wilders picked up the baton. He takes a hard stance on Islamic terrorism and calls for a stop to immigration, at least until Dutch Muslims are better integrated. Some of his arguments are pure polemic. For instance, he says the Quran is a "fascist" book. Since it is illegal in the Netherlands to publish Hitler's "Mein Kampf," he argues, so it should be illegal to publish the Quran. One can have a debate about the Quran, but to ban the book altogether is ridiculous, and he knows it.

Yet his outrageous remarks have stirred a constructive discussion about the Quran and Islam in the Netherlands that is more vigorous than in any Western or, for that matter, Muslim country. And uncomfortable as they may be for Dutch Muslims, they help them view their religion in a more critical light. Notwithstanding the growing appeal of radical Islam, the political participation of moderate Muslims is on the rise, a positive sign of integration. For the first time in Dutch history, two Muslims are in the cabinet.

Criticism and Islam


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