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A defaced image of the website promoting the film, which was removed by ISP Network Solutions.  (Source: Klein Verzet)

The current notice appears when visiting  (Source: DailyTech)

The video and the site sparked a large protest Saturday in Amsterdam.  (Source: Fred Ernst / AP)
Dutch filmmaker Geert Wilders faced with possible removal by his ISP may seek possible alternate distribution means for his radical film

The Netherlands is becoming the surprising center of conflict over the extent of free speech, religion and allegations of racism.  The debate centers around an upcoming film by a local politician, which expresses strong criticism against Islam faith. 

Several Islamic government have sought to ban materials criticizing Islam.  The most recent example of this was when Pakistan blocked the website YouTube for promoting non-Islamic or anti-Islamic materials, inadvertently crippled the country's internet traffic.

Nearby Denmark found itself in the center of a similar controversy when a Danish newspaper aired cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, the most important Islamic historic religious figure, in an embarrassing light.  The cartoon led to protests worldwide outside Dutch embassies, death threats and at least one murder.

Now Holland is back in the limelight.  Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, head of a reactionary party which controls 9 seats in the 150-seat Dutch Parliament, promoted his new film which portrays Islam in an extremely critical light, only to find his website taken down amid a storm of criticism.  The film was promoted on the site which formerly had a simple title image, the words "Fitna" ("Coming Soon"), and an image of a gilded Qu'ran. 

The website has since been taken down, and a note is posted stating that Network Solutions, the U.S. based service provider, is investigating whether the site violates its terms of service.  The note about Wilder's site states, "Network Solutions has received a number of complaints regarding this site that are under investigation."

Network Solutions hosts the website of Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based organization labeled by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. 

While the company could not be reached for comment, its terms of service do include a broad provision banning, "objectionable material of any kind or nature."  While the former website gave scant details about the upcoming 15-minute film, to be released on March 31st, it is certain to be found objectionable by some.  Filmmaker Wilders says the film will underscore his belief that the Islamic holy book is "fascist."

Wilders prepared to distribute the video over the internet after being met with refusal from television stations unwilling to grant it airtime.  Wilders, who lives under police protection due to death threats, refuses to be deterred, and was quoted Dutch news agency ANP on Saturday stating, "How many ways are there left for me to be worked against?  If necessary, I'll go hand out DVDs personally on the Dam." The Dam is a colloquial name for Amsterdam's central square.

On Saturday protesters crowded the Dam to voice their distaste for Wilders.  Amid sleet and heavy wind, between 2,000 and 3,000 protesters of mixed ethnicities assembled "Netherlands Shows Its Colors" in an advanced reaction against the film.  Protesters carried signs such as "Standing Together Against the Right-Wing Populist Witch-Hunt." 

One protester, Elisa Trepp, said, "I'm very much against Geert Wilders and racism in general.  I think it's really important to show not only Holland but the rest of the world that there's a lot of people who do not agree with his ideas."

Hassan Iaeti, another demonstrator, traveled for hours to make it.  He states, "The government could really do something. That's in the interest of the country - stop him, just stop him."

Dutch officials fear that the film may spark violent protests worldwide.  Free speech in the U.S. is currently solely limited against making statements that would incite imminent lawless action (riots) as defined by the case Brandeburg v. Ohio.  Similar limits to free speech exist throughout much of Europe, much to the chagrin of free speech advocates.  As the video may spark worldwide lawlessness, the government may see it fit to block the video. 

However the government remains relatively apathetic to the situation by all indications.  No prominent politicians showed up at the protest.  Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said previously that he did not agree with Wilders views, but supported his right to free speech.  Balkenende did add that the video could threaten Dutch interests worldwide.

In Afghanistan protesters burned effigies of Wilders and demanded the withdraw of NATO-deployed Dutch troops from the country.  A Dutch court will hear complaints against the film lodged by Muslim groups, on March 28th, however Wilders can elect to release the film before then. 

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RE: Amazing
By omnicronx on 3/24/2008 12:43:35 PM , Rating: 2
I think the moral of the story here is; don't poke the bear...

Sure technically freedom of speech means you should be able to say pretty much whatever you want.. but after the trouble the Netherlands was already in from the comic, do they really need any more bad press?

This guy is probably using the situation for fame, nothing more, and putting an entire country at risk is stupid in my opinion.

RE: Amazing
By boogle on 3/24/2008 12:51:23 PM , Rating: 2
This guy is probably using the situation for fame, nothing more, and putting an entire country at risk is stupid in my opinion.

I doubt he's putting the entire country at risk tbh, the Netherlands are part of NATO therefore any official attack on them is an attack on all of NATO. The most that can be done is an Islamic extremist murdering this guy - while he's under police protection.

It's a messy situation - but the second you stop defending free speech you'll lose it. The terrorists (in this case) win. Never, ever, negotiate or bow down to terrorists or you'll become a dirty great target.

RE: Amazing
By wien on 3/24/2008 12:56:29 PM , Rating: 3
I'm sorry, but what risk? What danger was there really because of the Muhammad cartoons when that happened? Other than some disturbance and property damage was it really that bad here in Europe? Are we so frail we can't even take that these days?

This is all media hype feeding the rampant fear of terrorism running wild these days. You're in more danger of being killed by a falling coconut than being killed by a terrorist, so why let these issues prevent you from voicing your opinion? Why do people let these comparatively minor incidents scare them so much?

RE: Amazing
By robinthakur on 3/25/2008 7:21:42 AM , Rating: 2
in more danger of being killed by a falling coconut than being killed by a terrorist, so why let these issues prevent you from voicing your opinion

Probably because a coconut won't shoot you when you're riding your bike and then skewer you to the pavement like poor old Theo Van Gogh. I think that scared alot in the media witless and since then there's been a policy of appeasement from those weak (or sensible) enough to be intimidated by this act of barbarism.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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