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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 fitnathemovie.com.  (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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By Master Kenobi (blog) on 3/24/2008 1:18:05 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I think NS was trying to do the responsible thing by hoping to avoid any sort of demonstrations like those that did occur regarding the Danish cartoons that led to the deaths of roughly 50 innocent people.

I really have to question why people fear demonstrations so much. If some group wants to demonstrate and protest something, who cares. If they get violent, well the riot police with tear gas, rubber bullets, and tasers get sent out to deal with the problem. This "don't want to offend anyone" attitude is flawed because someone will ALWAYS be offended by something no matter how minor.


By wien on 3/24/2008 1:24:38 PM , Rating: 2
And the lower to set the bar for what is acceptable, the more easily people will get offended. Eventually you can't even greet you neighbor without attracting a lynch mob.


By hcahwk19 on 3/24/2008 1:56:26 PM , Rating: 5
I think the issue with the Muslims against the film, is that they won't go out and simply protest, like civilized people would. They will carry out bombings, probably suicide bombings, in order to show their feelings. They need to grow up and take criticism like adults. There is no right to not be offended. So someone drew a cartoon making fun of Islam. The best comedy always has truth in it, and there is no difference here. You don't see Catholics, Protestants or Mormons trying to kill off the creators of South Park for their hilarious depictions of those denominations. I am Catholic, and while there are times I cringe when South Park or Family Guy rip into the Church, I also end up laughing my @ss off because it is funny. It might be a little sacriligious, but it is also pretty funny at times. Just the other day, there was a depiction of Christ being crucified in the fetal position, instead of with outstretched hands. There were no bombings or killings, just because someone drew Christ that way. But it is okay to make fun of Christians, but not Muslims. That would be politically incorrect. Yeah, Christianity was criticized, but no one was killed over it. Muslims need to wake up and smell the couscous, grow up, and get over it. If you don't like the way someone portrays how they see Islam, then prove them wrong. Don't prove them right by carrying out the exact actions they show Islam doing. If Islam is such a "peaceful" religion, as the liberals claim it is, then Islam needs to PROVE IT TO THE WORLD. Because all that is seen is their killing of innocent people, even innocent Muslims day in and out. Rocket attacks here, roadside bombs there, beheadings over there, the list goes on. Until proven otherwise, Islam is a very violent religion.


RE: Dutch Christians & Muslims Were Against the Film
By wien on 3/24/2008 2:24:34 PM , Rating: 3
Please don't try to pin this on Islam as a religion. Islam is not inherently more violent than any other religion. It goes far deeper than that and focusing exclusively on the religion itself is incredibly narrow minded.

Social issues like lack of education and wealth combined with external interference over the course of centuries are the real causes of most of these problems. Shifting the focus away from these issues are a sure fire way of ensuring there will be no end to the problems. It's very easy to sit here in the western world and be the bigger man.


By Master Kenobi (blog) on 3/24/2008 3:07:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Islam is not inherently more violent than any other religion.

Correct. Yet we see the other religions have for several hundred years or more not performed the violent acts currently being employed by radical's of Islam. Take a good read of the "Old Testament" and it's just as violent, but do we see any Christians actually doing this sort of thing? No.

Islam really needs to grow up, reform, and enter the modern era. They can't keep pointing to the past, thousands of years ago, for guidance.


By wien on 3/24/2008 3:25:37 PM , Rating: 3
Now? No, not very often. But most "Christian" nations are located in the western, rich and well educated parts of the world. You just can't ignore that part of the equation. You don't have to go that far back in time to find equally violent behavior motivated by Christianity either. There are also quite a few extremist cults based on Christianity that at least share much of the rhetoric you find in extremist Muslim cults.

You're right Islam needs to enter the modern era, but saying it just isn't enough. For change to happen you need to look at the core causes of this increasing polarization and fix them. Just blaming Islam is a cop out.


By Ajax9000 on 3/24/2008 10:59:43 PM , Rating: 2
Be careful what you wish for, it may just happen.

It is not just westerners who call for Islam to reform, there are a number of Muslims who have called for a Reformation/Enlightenment/new ijtihad (a new "sustained reasoning") akin to what the Christian church went through. E.g:
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/relrpt/stories...
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2005/s14436...
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/relrpt/stories...

However ...
Given how bloody the Christian reformation was, can you imagine how bad an Islamic refomation could turn out due to modern communications, transport, and weapons ... ?

And even after all that, there would likely still be the case (just as with Judaism and Christianity) that there would be radical & violent fringe sects.


RE: Dutch Christians & Muslims Were Against the Film
By djade on 3/24/2008 4:39:23 PM , Rating: 2
are you saying that those in predominantly Muslim countries are backwards because of centuries steeped in suppressing women due to cultural factors and are less educated? In any case, social issues don't make fundamentalism, fascism and fatwas on your head right or acceptable. Should people be forced to cater to the not-so-up-to-speed, or shouldn't we work on getting the not-so-up-to-speed up to speed. In the meantime, let's look at the bigger picture of important topics, China is giant but small when it comes to issues of Tibetan autonomy. They had little use for Tibetans for so long, now that they've realized it could be a huge cash cow, it has made inroads (pun intended) to get in on the action. Let Tibetans live. As for Muslims, I don't have a problem with getting a mat out and praying five times a day wherever need be but again, the killings have got to stop. you're right, we need to educate people but not at the expense of cowering and kowtowing to radicalism. The Internet host that removed Wilders site is doing just that, obviously afraid extremists are out there and could do fundamental damage to not just their site but to its people. And according to your logic, we in the west should just sit back and let the freaks take over? I think it's crazy we, westerners alike chastized Mel Gibson for a pro-Jesus movie. Pro Hezbollah is ok, but pro Jesus is not, go figure.


RE: Dutch Christians & Muslims Were Against the Film
By wien on 3/24/2008 5:07:12 PM , Rating: 2
You seem to be projecting a lot of opinions on to me that I can't even begin to identify with. I'm not saying any of this behavior is acceptable. Where on earth did you get that idea?

What I'm trying to do is getting people to recognize the real reasons for radicalism instead of making huge sweeping statements about the religion as a whole. This isn't some inherent evil in the religion itself. It's about people acting like people do when stuck in certain situations. I'm just sick and tired of having everyone up the contrast on these issues until everything is black and white. The world doesn't work like that.


By masher2 (blog) on 3/24/2008 5:31:01 PM , Rating: 3
I recognize what you're trying to do, but I believe you're missing the crucial point. You're saying that the root cause of extremism in these nations isn't Islam, but rather poverty, lack of education, etc, yes?

However, I submit that the endemic poverty and poor education are a result of the religion. They're inextricably tied, and not simply coincidental.

At one point, the Muslim world was at least as scientifically and technologically advanced as the Christian one. But the spread of humanism in the Western world allowed us to throw off the yoke of Fundamentalism and progress to the modern age. Heavily Muslim nations, however, are still trapped in the past...due in large part to their religious beliefs.


By nah on 3/25/2008 2:35:31 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
the spread of humanism in the Western world allowed us to throw off the yoke of Fundamentalism and progress to the modern age.


that is slightly vague---the Western world clicked off with the Renaissance--but learning and human rights were not coupled together. France in the 1700s had a pretty dismal record of human rights, yet people like Diderot and D'Alembert were compiling the Encyclopadie .Also all Western nations did not achieve the same levels of political freedom --eg women were not allowed to vote in England until the 1920s. The colonial empires of the Western nations subjugated the colonised peoples pretty ruthlessly--Leopold III of Belgium pretty much used the Congo as his personal fiefdom, depopulating entire villages to get money to biuld his palaces---unless of course by humanism--you mean subjugation of 'inferior' races by 'superior' one ;)


By abzillah on 3/25/2008 5:13:30 AM , Rating: 2
I think you need a reality check. The majority of Muslims here in the united states are middle class citizens. Many of the engineers, doctors, computer software and hardware engineers and other professionals are Muslim. I myself have eight brothers, I have four brothers in collage and three who have already finished. I have six sisters who have finished collage. My religion tells me to get educated and be a global citizen. As a Muslim, your point has no base of evidence.
You talk about "Humanism", what humanism are you talking about with 80000-500000 Iraqi's killed from this war with Saddam, who we, gave weapons to in 1979 to fight Iran.
So, please learn about Islam first before you open your mouth.


By robinthakur on 3/25/2008 7:08:50 AM , Rating: 2
Clearly you haven't been to Dubai recently have you? That is a much more relaxed form of Islam (and Turkey too) which while still inherently Muslim, understands that business, enterprise and tourism are better ways to promote the muslim culture instead of suicide bombing and suppression of free speech. Even in Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc. there are limits. Overt homosexuality is illegal (kissing publicly, holding hands etc.) and if you were to criticise the Sheikhs (rulers) or really badly criticise Islam you would probably be thrown in jail or deported. However for a Muslim country, that's actually pretty reserved, and the good points outweigh the bad. There were so many westerners there and it was so full of life I just want to go back now :(

Other more backward (Yes they are backward and still literally interpretting a book written hundreds of years ago, much like some christians) states in the region should take a leaf out of Dubai's book. Listen and learn Saudi Arabia, Iran and others. I think they are just bored personally. It gets really hot out there, and if you're not educated in anything other than religion/don't have a proper job/knowledge of the outside world then I'm not surprised that they get really worked up when someone offends their religion. They've got nothing better to do!

The solution is not self censorship here in any way shape or form, because that takes away more of our hard fought rights. This Dutch politician might represent many Dutch people's beliefs and feelings and many more worldwide. Who is to say that their feelings shouldn't be articulated? They don't live in Saudi Arabia! Stopping people from speaking freely only creates a bottleneck of emotion. From what we see in the media in the west, this violent image is what Muslims create for themselves, it is not simply imagined. Remember the director Theo van Gogh and that he was skewered to the pavement for daring to make a film about Islam. Unfortunately too many people are terrified of what will happen if they criticise Islam in public, its not that they don't want to offend. I respect his fortitude to lay his life on the line for his beliefs if nothing else.

As an ironic aside, America's ignorance, naivette and gung ho attitude in the middle east has hurt its economy far more seriously than 9/11 or Al Q, ever could have hoped to. Maybe that was their plan all along, they do seem pretty smart for people living in caves...


By hcahwk19 on 3/24/2008 5:33:20 PM , Rating: 2
There was a time when Islam was very powerful and rich and considered very educated. Of course, that was nearly a thousand years ago. As Islam spread from Arabia into Europe, it not only brought some medical and scientific advances to Europe, but it also preserved what it found along the way. The problem during that time was that although Islam had and kept these advances, it was very ruthless in its proliferation into Europe. At one time, Baghdad was a great medical center, in middle ages terms, but still a medical center. You can see the architectural influence all over Europe (and there is still a Muslim province in Spain called the Basque Region). But as Islam spread a thousand years ago, it killed thousands upon thousands of people, both Christian and non-Christian, ruthlessly, just as it does today. When the Muslims made their way into northwestern Europe, northern Spain, Northern France, and England, they finally met resistance from Christians who could actually stand up to the power of Islam. This is what started the Crusades. The Crusades were a retaliation and counterattack to the spread of Islam into northern Europe. The Christians drove the Muslims back to the Middle East out of fear of annihilation. Yeah, it is widely taught that the Christian Crusaders were violent and ruthless, and they probably were, but that was only in response to what they were facing.
Islam is an inherently violent religion, and has been for over a thousand years. Even today, those that are bent on world domination, still look to the West as the Crusaders. The events today are merely a more modern version, kind of a Crusades 2.0, and unfortunately, most in the West do not see it. Israel sees it, because they have had to put up with the crap since 1947. Those Muslims that hate the rest of the world (and there are lots of them) are in a way envious of what We have. When Israel was created in 1947, and the Jews started moving there, that area was all arid desert. As the Jews came in, they began to irrigate the land and, alas, the region became an oasis. At first, the Arabs loved it, but as the area became more and more habitable (and consequently more and more Jews showed up), they became more envious of what the Jews brought to the area. For centuries, the land there was desert and brutal. Yet, in just a few short years, the Israelis had created a very livable environment.
Instead of really looking to the Israelis for help, learning the techniques used to improve the land, the pride of the Muslims have prevented them from progressing with the times, especially in the past 50 years. Instead of embracing what is around them, they have rejected it, and want to destroy those who brought the abundance to the land.
In a way, what we should do is to tell Israel that we are creating a new Israel here in the US (you know, give them a state like Idaho or Vermont or something). Give the current Israel over to the Muslims, along with the all the technologies there, and move all Jews to the new Israeli state. Then we will see just how "peaceful" Islam really is. We will pull all military and economic help from the region, as we won't have the need to protect Israel anymore. That way, both the Little Satan, and the Great Satan can live together, here in the US. I can guarantee 100% that the bullcrap we are going through will not end, but only shift from there to here even more, because the Muslims will have to have something to whine and fight about. It will not end until either all non-Muslims (whether part of a religious group or not) are eliminated from the planet, or all Muslims are gone. That is the only way it will happen. Islam has been trying to take over the world for a millenia, and nothing will change.


By almared on 3/26/2008 6:32:35 PM , Rating: 2
"Islam is an inherently violent religion" I'm sorry for you mate but you are really dumb and I can't say more because you know nothing about history. Anyway, I get one thing from all these comments, you don't know anything and you come making points and arguments. I'm tired of explaining simple things that you fail to know or even understand. You see someone blow himself and you say "hey, he was a Muslim, let's blame it on Islam" You are so Ignorant that you fail to understand anything but what you thing is correct. Go watch at least a documentary or anything that explains what Islam is and that has at least a proper name rather than the word "Anti-islam" or any other ridiculous name. Try to be fair and not base you judgments on bias information or thing you heard or felt true. This is a religion that has been around for hundreds of years and millions follow it. Do you think that 2 billion person would still follow a religion that says what you think it says.

Just try to listen to the other side instead of making judgments from one side and I'm not denying that many "crazy" people are acting in a way that makes everybody hate Islam. But again look at the real cause.


By Stublore on 3/26/2008 9:43:23 PM , Rating: 2
Actually he seems quite right. If you cannot bother to correct someone and merely say they are wrong, it reflects more on you than it does on the person you are criticising.
What does islam mean?
It means submission, even the violence inherent in your religion is spelt out in the name!
If a person blows themselves up, and leaves a video about why he did it, and says it's because he is going to heaven to get 72 virigns, and he is doing it for allah(often also the last words he utters), where does the blame lay? First with the idiot who blew himself up for a fairytale, then with the religion which was inclculcated into him since birth, and told him that would be his reward.


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