29 January 2008

New Film - Same Fears

Dutch politician Geert Wilders is planning to release a ten minute film that is critical of Islam. Not surprisingly, many are afraid that this will lead to Mulims rioting and acting violently towards the West.

The Dutch director of a previous film critical of Islam was murdered by a Muslim radical on an Amsterdam street in 2004, prompting a backlash that included the torching of several mosques. [...]

Even though it is uncertain the film will ever be broadcast, the government has put cities on alert for possible violence. It has also warned its overseas embassies about a possible reaction similar to the one that erupted across the Muslim world over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad printed in a Danish newspaper in 2005.

"That a 10-minute film that's never been shown may lead to riots, boycotts and other bad things, says everything about the nature of Islam," said Wilders in an open letter Thursday. "Nothing about me."
I think Wilders is absolutely correct in saying that the very real fears of violence from Muslims over a short film that has yet to be seen is extremely telling about the nature of Islam. Violence and Islam are very intertwined in the here-and-now.

There is a silver-tinged lining to this story, though. The title of the piece that I linked to above is "Dutch Muslims Urge Calm Over Quran Film," and the National Moroccan Council in the Netherlands is trying to get Muslims to moderate their reaction to Wilders' film when it is released.

The moderate National Moroccan Council said Thursday it will try to "neutralize the threat" posed by the upcoming film, which Wilders says is still under production.

"At the moment, practically all Muslim groups ... are working to ensure a peaceful and responsible reaction" to the film, said the group's chairman, Mohamed Rabbae, at a news conference in The Hague. [...]

The group also will call on Dutch Muslims who feel victimized or insulted by the film to file criminal complaints against Wilders for racial or religious vilification.
That last sentence is why I call the National Moroccan Council's reaction a silver-tinged lining. While Mohamed Rabbae is calling for a peaceful response to the film from Muslims, his group is also calling for a litigious response as well, and that doesn't bode well for free expression.

I'd like to know what the Vegas odds would be on Wilders' film being used as an excuse for Muslim riots. My guess is that the odds are better for Muslim violence than for a peaceful Muslim response.


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