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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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The Freedom of Speech argument
By kappakappa on 3/24/2008 2:02:52 PM , Rating: 2
I believe that politicians have an authoritarian role. Children watch them much like parents and teachers, therefore they have a function that shows example for children. This Wilders guy insults and uses vulgar language, which isn't what you would want your daughter to hear from her teacher, would you? At least make an attempt at professional subtilty.

But alas, back to the point.

Freedom of speech was not given the finger here, because no law disallowed the hosting, it was a provider that preferred to not do so and AFAIK they have every right to say what they host, no one can force them to do so. It is also against the law to publically speak towards something will encourage unlawful action. This might not hold in court, though, when it comes to this movie. Therefore I can see this ban being undone soon. Also, this man actually has tried to alter the first article in the constitution that protects people against discriminating acts as well as not allowing any muslim preaching whatsoever in their own language. There lies the hypocrisy in using the freedom of speech card.

This man has been voted for in politics by people with little reason. He cannot do a thing. People that voted for him want any muslim out of the country. This means altering a large portion of the constitution. One guy isn't going to accomplish such an irrational move, therefore he can't do a thing for his voters. This is pretty much why he has lowered himself to petty insults to muslims as well as theatrical appearances such as the Fitna movie.




RE: The Freedom of Speech argument
By djade on 3/24/2008 2:16:59 PM , Rating: 2
kids will see and hear what they see and hear at schools, from friends, from tv, from the internet. sorry, you're not going to be able to prevent that from happening. i wouldn't want my teacher to tell me who to hate, though this is done in some parts of the country. and as far as wielder wanting every muslim out of his country, well, that's his business to feel as he does and with the non-clout he has that you speak of, he won't be able to make that happen and his non-clout movie shouldn't be a big deal to you but it is a fact that powerful people, heads on nations in some middle eastern countries, for example, don't believe israel exists, denounce it and would like to blow it off the map! SCARY. that's the kind of scary you should protect children from.


By plaasjaapie on 3/24/2008 2:24:20 PM , Rating: 2
"Freedom of speech was not given the finger here, because no law disallowed the hosting, it was a provider that preferred to not do so and AFAIK they have every right to say what they host, no one can force them to do so."

Actually, NSI has no such right as such. If they were a purely private enterprise, I'd agree with you, but they aren't.

The domain registration part of their business, which is most of their business, they got as a single bidder from the National Science Foundation back in the late 1970's.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_Solutions

They're a monopoly, and what's worse, a US government created one at that. They were sold for $21 billion last year with the value of that company almost entirely due to their monopoly status. They also weathered an international challenge to their monopoly on the basis of their even-handedness.

They've just shown the world big-time that that claim was a fraud. They're going to have the devil's own time fighting off another effort at their dissolution now.

I supported NSI last time.

Unless they clean up their act, chop chop, and fire the idiot(s) who pulled this blatant piece of idiocy with maximum publicity I will be supporting their dissolution when the next such challenge come.


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