Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders’ film, “Fitna” (Arabic for “strife” or “challenge”), has been released, first on LiveLeak (from which it has been removed) and now on YouTube (below). The film depicts unethical statements from the Koran and by Muslim leaders, as well as photographs of terrorist atrocities committed by radical Islamists. The government of Indonesia has called for YouTube to remove the video, and it has provoked calls for boycotts of Dutch goods. This will no doubt serve to inflame Muslims, and to demonstrate once again that very few of them have the slightest comprehension of the secular concept of freedom of speech. Fortunately, there are some exceptions–a group of Arabs has called for a screening of the film in Saudi Arabia, followed by constructive dialogue about it.
What it will also demonstrate, I suspect, is hypocrisy on the part of some Christians who have criticized people like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens for emphasizing the negative aspects of religion (and more specifically Christianity) while ignoring or minimizing the positive aspects. I suspect many such Christians will laud this video as an accurate depiction of the dangers of Islam and why it must be opposed, without recognizing that the Bible contains similar verses to the Koran about such things as killing unbelievers.
Note that P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula has called Wilders’ film “dishonest,” and there is much back-and-forth in the comments on his blog about the particular excerpts from the Koran, what they actually mean, and the context in which they were written. I hope that Taner can provide us with further illumination.
UPDATE (April 15, 2008): Kieran Bennett takes me to task for my sentence about Muslims. While I should have explicitly said “*some* Muslims,” and perhaps my “very few” was an unwarranted exaggeration, I think I was clear that I wasn’t talking about all Muslims. I have seen numerous examples, however, of even moderate Muslims in western nations who have demonstrated a lack of understanding of free speech on a par with many Christians’ lack of understanding of the separation of church and state.
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