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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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RE: A dangerous precedent
By deadbolt2002 on 3/24/2008 3:35:56 PM , Rating: 4
The Islamic religion has evolved into 2 sects (most likely many more, but from an outsiders point of view, and for the purpose of this post lets stick with 2 groups). From an outsiders view we predominantly see the Islamic terrorists, and the violent nature "inherent" in that religion. But we predominantly see this because its the only thing that receives mass publicity, and offers a threat to other people. The vast majority of Muslims are incredibly respectful, mostly peaceful people who value wisdom. It is these muslims that would encourage intelligent and respectful criticism and discussion of the Islamic faith. Any intelligent individual should be able to discuss their faith, regardless of which one they choose, in a calm and respectful way and be open to criticism.

Now, this Wilders guy SEEMS like an ignorant, disrespectful, biggot, incapable of having an intelligent discussion. BUT, I have never seen his work, nor heard him speak, so how can I judge him? As a result of all that I have read, I already have a distaste for him as a person, and believe that if the allegations of biggotry are true he should be removed from office, but what I would like to see more than anything is him have a calm, intelligent, rational discussion with a peaceful muslim leader.

But the specific issue at hand is freedom of speech, not the Islamic religion. I believe the video should be publicly released so that the public may judge it and him for themselves. I believe that many people are ignorant enough, or unintelligent enough to accept what he has to say as fact, but that is a shame that we must accept. Many documentaries are released, such as Michael Moore's work, and Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" that address hot topics with factual inaccuracies, or stretched truths, but it is up to the viewer to be skeptical. Freedom of speech means freedom of speech. I agree with one poster's famous quote "Though I may disagree with what you have to say, I would die for your right to say it."


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