DAILY NEWS, EGYPT
By Sarah Carr
First Published: March 28, 2008
CAIRO: Dutch MP Geert Wilders’ film “Fitna” went online Thursday evening to a mostly muted reaction.
The 15-minute film — which opens with an image of one of the cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed which inflamed Muslim public opinion in 2005 — places Quranic verses against a background of images of attacks by radical Islamist groups and sensationalist Dutch newspaper headlines.
It ends with an image of a page in the Quran being turned before the screen fades to black and the sound of paper being torn is heard.
“The sound you heard was a page being removed from the phonebook. For it is not up to me, but to Muslims themselves to tear out the hateful verses from the Quran” is the message which next appears.
The film ends with the words “stop Islamisation, defend our freedom.”
There had been speculation that the film would prompt a response like that provoked by the printing of cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed, when Danish embassies were attacked.
The BBC has reported small protests in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende condemned “Fitna”, reportedly saying in a televised reaction ''The film equates Islam with violence. We reject this … 'We ... regret that Mr. Wilders has released this film. We believe it serves no other purpose than to cause offense.''
Wilders has frequently criticized Holland’s immigration policy and has called for the deportation of dual-nationality Dutch citizens as well as a five-year freeze on immigration.
While he claims to be protecting Dutch values, critics have accused him of racism and publicity-seeking for his political ambitions.
Cornelius Hulsman of the Cairo based Center for Arab West Understanding told Daily News Egypt that it has sent a petition against the film to the Dutch parliament.
“A Dutch delegation was here in Cairo a few days ago and we have sent with them a petition signed by one hundred Christian and Muslim clerics which will be presented to the Dutch parliament,” Hulsman said.
“This film is causing polemics and we ask for a rational response.”
Rather than being an isolated incident, Hulsman regards “Fitna” as the product of a wave of secularism sweeping Europe.
“The film is a consequence of Europe becoming more and more secular,” Hulsman said. “This secularism has resulted in the development of a new religion — ‘enlightenment fundamentalism’ — which doesn’t care for, or respect, the feelings and convictions of others,” he explained.
Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa thinks differently.
In a statement given to Daily News Egypt he said, “The goodwill from the European public and their governments who have distanced themselves from this man and his ideology demonstrate that this is an isolated incident,” Gomaa said. “It is not representative of Europe or the West,” he continued.