NEWS - Archive March 2008

ANTI MUSLIM FILM BY DUTCH FAR - RIGHT POLITICIAN

MUSLIM STATES SLAM DUTCH AT UN ON ISLAMOPHOBIA, FILM

15/4/2008- Muslim countries led by Iran and Pakistan called on the Netherlands on Tuesday to combat what they called rising Islamophobia and discrimination against immigrants in Dutch society. Condemning a film released by Dutch member of parliament Geert Wilders that accuses the Koran of condoning violence, they also urged Dutch authorities to prosecute its author for inciting hatred against Muslims. The video "Fitna", launched last month on the Internet, urges Muslims to tear out "hate-filled" verses from the Koran and starts and ends with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb under his turban, accompanied by a ticking sound. "Despite an impressive array of (Dutch) laws and an elaborate framework to combat racism and xenophobia, recent actions by individuals to incite racial hatred and religious intolerance have shocked Muslims around the world," Pakistan's ambassador Masood Khan told the U.N. Human Rights Council. "A defamatory documentary released by a Dutch parliamentarian intended to demonise Muslims and distort the message of the Koran has been widely condemned," he said, referring to the leader of the anti-immigration Freedom Party. Khan called on the Dutch government to complete its investigation into the film's release and to prosecute the author for "inciting hatred against Muslims in the Netherlands and all around the world". Iran's ambassador Alireza Moaiyeri also denounced discrimination against minorities in the Netherlands. The most recent example was "attacking Islam through the making of a defamatory film against the holy Koran as a vivid example of Islamophobia and incitement to racial and religious hatred".

Nebahat Albayrak, Dutch state secretary for justice and one of two Muslims in the cabinet, told the Geneva forum her government had opposed the release of the film. Albayrak, who is Turkish-born, said her government was drawing up a plan to combat racial discrimination on the labour market, in law enforcement, criminal investigation and on the Internet. "Combating prejudice and respecting freedom of Muslims to practice their religion are key themes of our integration policies," she said. "The Dutch government strongly believes that fostering inter-action (between communities) will help us to combat discrimination and Islamophobia," she added. The Dutch public prosecutor was investigating a possible criminal offence in connection with the film, she added. Dutch Muslims have defended freedom of expression as a fundamental right of Dutch society, she said. (Editing by Jonathan Lynn and Ibon Villelabeitia)
Reuters

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NATIONAL PARTY SCREENS ANTI-ISLAMIC FILM(Czech Rep.)

15/4/2008- The Czech extra-parliamentary extremist National Party (NS) presented the controversial anti-Islamic film Fitna of Dutch ultra-right MP Geert Wilders in Hradec Kralove Tuesday. Over 20 people attended the screening. On this occasion, Pavel Sedlacek from the NS pointed to the alleged danger of Islamisation and he mentioned demonstrations in the Czech Republic and abroad against it. Only several people took part in the debate. One of them said problems with the Islamisation of society should be solved on the official level. "You must call on politicians to start dealing with it," he said. Sedlacek objected that one cannot rely on politicians in this respect. The local branch of the NS, which was officially registered in 2002, also screened the film Ahmed - Dead Terrorist and offered T-shirts and papers to the audience tonight. The NS has released Wilders's film called Fitna, an Arabic word used to describe discord, on its website. "A total of 26,000 people have seen the film, a half of them from Germany and Austria. People from 71 countries have watched it on our website," Sedlacek said. The police organised crime squad (UOOZ) started investigating the film's release on the NS's Internet page to check whether the film's content is in compliance with Czech law. UOOZ spokesman Pavel Hantak told CTK that the investigation had not been completed yet. The film describes the Koran as a book that provokes intolerance, murders and violence, and it ends up with the slogan: "Stop Islamisation. Defend Our Freedom." The film, released in March, met with sharp criticism in the Muslim world. The Dutch TV channels refused to broadcast it. The authorities expressed fears that the film might stir up violent protests in Muslim countries similar to those that followed after the publication of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons in Danish papers two years ago.
Prague Daily Monitor

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PM ASTONISHED BY FITNA DEBATE REACTIONS(Netherlands)

4/4/2008- Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on Friday that he was astonished by the reactions to this week's parliamentary debate on Geert Wilders' anti-Koran film Fitna. During Tuesday's debate, ministers made public cabinet documents which proved that Wilders had been planning to show pages being torn from the Koran in his film. The notes were made after meetings between ministers and Wilders last year. But Wilders described the notes as rubbish and accused ministers of lying. Speaking on the fringes of the Nato summit in Bucharest, Balkenende said he had never come across such a reaction to official documents during his years as prime minister. It was not a question of differing interpretation of the facts, he said. The notes are 'as clear as day'. Justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin and home affairs minister Guusje ter Horst, who were also at the meeting, also denied Wilders' accusations. 'It is the facts that count,' said Hirsch Ballin. 'There is nothing untrue about my statement.' A number of online polls show that many people believe Wilders rather than the ministers is telling the truth. Furthermore, independent MP Rita Verdonk had got it 'quite wrong' when she accused him of weakening the right to freedom of expression in the Fitna affair, Balkenende said. The cabinet had put nothing in the way of the film's release, he argued. 'We are pleased that we were so well prepared, but that has nothing to do with freedom of expression,' news agency ANP reported the prime minister as saying.
Dutch News

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FITNA DEBATE TURNS CONFRONTATIONAL(Netherlands)

Lower House debate on Tuesday night on the film turned into a huge confrontation between Freedom Party MP Geert Wilders and the government.

2/4/2008- The Lower House debate on Tuesday night on the anti-Qur'an film Fitna turned into a huge confrontation between Freedom Party MP Geert Wilders and the government. The debate was called to question why prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende felt it necessary to make a televised statement on the same evening the film went on line. During the debate confidential documents were released in which a meeting in early November between Wilders, the justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin and interior minister Guusje Ter Horst was recorded. The document clearly states that the government ministers were concerned about the end of the film in which Wilders planned to tear out verses or suras from the Qu'ran and throw them into a fireplace. The documents were released at the request of MPs after the Freedom Party leader disputed that he had told the government ministers anything about the content of the film. Wilders gave his permission. The documents threw a new light on why the government had called the situation a "crisis" and warned about possible "attacks". Wilders became furious, "I am being taken for a ride, taken for a ride by the minister. This is deception. Lies." Minister Hirsch Ballin suggested that the film had been adapted after their meeting, as the penultimate scene shows a hand grabbing a page in the Qur'an and as the screen goes blank the viewer sees the message that the tearing sounds they are hearing are pages from a phone book. Wilders came under fire during his five minutes speaking time in the emergency debate, which after interruptions lasted two hours. Almost all MPs accused him of lumping all Muslims together and not providing any solutions. There was broad support for the way in which the government had handled the whole affair. A motion of no-confidence submitted by Wilders was only supported by his own party. During the debate, Wilders demanded that the prime minister apologise for the alarmist reaction to the film before he or anyone else had seen any part of it. Prime minister Balkenende said it was Wilders that should apologise to all Muslims of good will, who reacted moderately to Fitna.
Radio Netherlands

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MALAYSIAN-DUTCH FIRM SLAMS ANTI-ISLAM FILM, APPEALS TO MUSLIMS NOT TO BOYCOTT

2/4/2008- A Malaysian-Dutch dairy producer took out newspaper advertisements Wednesday to denounce an anti-Islam film by a Dutch lawmaker, an apparent appeal to Muslims to not boycott its products. Malaysia's religious council and several Muslim groups in the country have called on Muslims to boycott Dutch goods to protest the 15-minute movie by right-wing politician Geert Wilders, saying the film creates unnecessary tensions and misleads viewers to link Islam and violence. In full-page announcements in major newspapers, as well as on its Web site, Dutch Lady Milk Industries said it wanted to "strongly condemn this expression against Islam" by Wilders. Dutch multinational firm Royal Friesland Foods owns a 50 percent stake in Dutch Lady and the remainder of the dairy produce company is owned by Malaysians. The second largest shareholder is state investment agency Permodalan Nasional Berhad. The advertisements pointed out that Dutch Lady is 50 percent owned by Malaysians, employs 660 Malaysians and manufactures its dairy products locally. Its brands include Dutch Lady, Frisian Flag, Frisolac, Calcimex and Joy. "We are part of the Malaysian community and respect all its cultures as its own. We look forward to your continued support and will always cherish the values that we share," chairman Kamarul Ariffin Mohamad Yassin said in the advertisement. The Malaysian supermarket chain Mydin has marked Dutch products with red labels to give customers the option of boycotting them. Mydin buys 60 million ringgit (US$18.8 million; €12 million) worth of Dutch goods a year. Dutch Ambassador Lody Embrechts said Tuesday that the film's release was regrettable but has called on people to refrain from boycotting Dutch goods and engage in dialogue instead. Malaysia's Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the film as disrespectful and insensitive. Some 60 percent of the country's 27 million people are Muslims. The film, titled "Fitna," or "ordeal" in Arabic, was posted online Thursday. Though it was removed from the site LiveLeak.com on Friday, it has since been available on other file-sharing sites.
International Herald Tribune

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31/3/2008- The moral simplicity and pure self-publicising opportunism of Geert Wilder's film is outrageous, and the mental gutter into which he has dragged intellectual discourse a sad reflection of the state into which Islamophobes have sunk. Projecting himself the upright, respectable citizen, Wilder sees his crusade as a noble cause, an important exposition of some high-minded “truths” regarding Islam, the Qur’an, and Muslims. In reality there is no shortage of fallacious comment, faulty logic, outright lies, and exaggerated distortion. Wilder’s film is little more than an attempt to divide communities through heavily playing on people’s deepest fears and emotions, generating anger, and inciting hatred. Like all racists and extremists, he seems oblivious to the fact that his film is also threatening the safety and security of vulnerable groups, damaging community cohesion and threatening national interests. FAIR is delighted that Muslims have upheld the true message and ethics of Islam by responding peacefully and with measured thought to the film. We strongly urge all right-minded and just people to do the same. FAIR also thanks all those people in the Netherlands and elsewhere who have rightly condemned the film, including those in the media who have refused to either air it or post it on websites. It seems that the quickest route to personal fame these days is to be a virulent Islamophobe.
FAIR

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CARTOONIST RETALIATES(Denmark)

1/4/2008- Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist behind the infamous Mohammed prophet caricature with the bomb in his turban, has drawn a controversial Dutch politician with a bomb in his hair, reports Politiken newspaper. The caricature has come in the wake of Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician's release last week of a provocative anti-Islam film, 'Fitna', which featured Westergaard's illustration without the artist's consent. Aside from a bomb in his hair, Wilders is portrayed behind a yellow and white striped police line holding a sign saying: 'Danger! Freedom of expression'. The illustration was published on the Dutch news site nieuwnieuws.nl. After much pressure by the Danish Union of Journalist, Wilders agreed to remove the caricature from his film, but Westergaard has nevertheless decided to continue with a lawsuit.
The Copenhagen Post

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AUSTRALIA SAYS DUTCH ANTI-ISLAM MOVIE SEEKS TO INCITE HATRED

30/3/2008- Australia condemned a Dutch lawmaker's anti-Quran film Sunday, with the foreign minister calling it "highly offensive." Foreign Minister Stephen Smith rejected the film's premise of equating Islam with acts of terror and violence. "It is an obvious attempt to generate discord between faith communities," Smith said. "I strongly reject the ideas contained in the film and deplore its release." Geert Wilders' 15-minute film, titled "Fitna," or "Ordeal" in Arabic, was posted online Thursday but removed from the site, LiveLeak.com, a day later. It has since been widely dispersed on other file-sharing sites. Muslim nations, the European Union and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have all expressed outrage over the film, which has sparked noisy street protests in many Islamic nations. "In Australia we believe in the right to freedom of expression but we don't believe in abusing that right to incite racial hatred," Smith said. Smith called for restraint in reactions.
International Herald Tribune

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ANTI-ISLAM MOVIE PROVOKES DEMONSTRATIONS IN PAKISTAN

Others condemn Dutch legislator's provocative images 

29/3/2008- Hundreds of Muslims marched yesterday in Pakistan and denounced a Dutch legislator’s film that portrays Islam as a ticking time bomb aimed at the West. Dutch Muslims were more restrained, saying they had expected worse. The 15-minute film - titled Fitna, or Strife in Arabic - was made by anti-immigrant legislator Geert Wilders and was posted on a Web site Thursday. The host site, LiveLeak.com, removed the film last night, citing threats to its staff “of a very serious nature.” But the film already had been widely dispersed across the Internet on file-sharing sites. Employing elements and symbols calculated to offend Muslims, it draws on recycled footage of terrorist attacks and anti-Western, anti-Jewish rhetoric meant to alarm the native Dutch. The film begins with the Danish cartoon image of Muhammad with a fuse in his turban - an image that provoked violent protests in Islamic countries when it was published by European newspapers two years ago. The same image appears at the end of film, although the fuse is lit and a ticking clock counts down the seconds, then fades into blackness broken by flashes of lightning and thunder. In another provocative image, a hand turns a page of the Quran as the screen darkens and the sound of tearing paper is heard. A printed text says that it is a telephone book being torn, and adds: “It is not up to me, but to Muslims themselves to tear out the hateful verses from the Quran.” The film concludes with a scrolling text saying that the West had defeated the Nazis and communism, and now must defeat an Islam that “wants to dominate, subject and seeks to destroy our Western civilization.” Wilders told reporters that he made the film because “Islam and the Quran are dangers to the preservation of freedom in the Netherlands.” He says in the film that Islam’s objective is to rule the world and impose an Islamic order without Western freedoms, where gays would be persecuted and women discriminated against. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry summoned the Dutch ambassador to deliver an official complaint. Small groups of demonstrators, mostly followers of hard-line religious groups, rallied in Pakistan’s major cities, demanding that Pakistan cut diplomatic relations with the Netherlands. A banner at one demonstration read: “We hate the uncivilized West.” Condemnations also came from the government of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Iran and Jordan. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the movie.
Associated Press

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LOUISE ARBOUR CONDEMNS WILDERS' FILM AND CALLS FOR APPROPRIATE LEGAL RESPONSES

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour issued the following statement today:

28/3/2008- "I join in the condemnation, as expressed by the Secretary-General and the three UN Special Rapporteurs, of the tone and content of the film 'Fitna' by Geert Wilders, and I urge all those who understandably feel profoundly offended by its provocative message to restrict themselves to denouncing its hateful content by peaceful means. "There is a protective legal framework, and the resolution of the controversy that this film will generate should take place within it. "I therefore also urge lawmakers everywhere to discharge their responsibility under Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They should offer strong protective measures to all forms of freedom of expression, while at the same time enacting appropriate restrictions, as necessary, to protect the rights of others. Equally, they should prohibit any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence."

Human rights experts condemn distorted vision of Muslims in the film 'Fitna' and call for dialogue and vigilance

Three UN Special Rapporteurs today issued a joint statement criticizing the provocative nature of a film depicting an extremely distorted vision of Muslims, and urging a calm and measured response to its release. The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diène; the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir; and the Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Ambeyi Ligabo, issued the following statement:

"We condemn the tone and content of the online film by Dutch Member of Parliament, Mr. Geert Wilders, which was released on the Internet yesterday. The film 'Fitna' illustrates an increasing pattern that associates Muslims exclusively with violence and terrorism. It is crucial that efforts be made by Governments to stop this pattern and take urgent measures to prevent incitement to racial and religious hatred which is a major threat to peace and social cohesion. While on the one hand, freedom of expression is a fundamental human right that must be respected, it does not extend to include incitement to racial or religious hatred which is itself clearly a violation of human rights. Public expressions that paint adherents of a particular religion as a threat to peace or global stability are irresponsible."

"We would like to make a special call for vigilance and tolerance. Following the publication of the controversial caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in September 2005, we urged all parties to refrain from any form of violence and to avoid fuelling hatred.* Furthermore, we encouraged States to promote the interrelated and indivisible nature of human rights and freedoms, and to advocate the use of legal remedies. We also called on them to pursue a peaceful dialogue on matters which go to the heart of all multicultural societies. We reiterate those calls now."

"We recognize the quick and balanced reaction of the Dutch Government to the release of this film in which it rejects the equation of Islam with violence and notes that the vast majority of Muslims reject extremism and violence. As Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council, we call upon all national and international human rights bodies and mechanisms to urgently initiate a debate on the best way to ensure the complementarity and balance of the fundamental rights of freedom of religion or belief and
freedom of expression as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We believe that enhanced efforts to promote inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue may help to restrain any possible violent reaction."
UN News service

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