The Dutch politician Geert Wilders has told De Telegraaf, the largest newspaper in the Netherlands that he has postponed the release of his “anti-Koran movie” until next March.
Two months ago, Wilders announced that he planned to release a 10-minute film about the Koran in January. Wilders says the Koran must be banned in the Netherlands because it is as intolerant and dangerous as Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. This week a number of Dutch media openly wondered whether Wilders really was making a film or whether his announcement had been simply a PR stunt.
To counter these rumours, Wilders sent the opening shot of the film to De Telegraaf. It shows a Koran accompanied by the text: “Waarschuwing: dit boek bevat schokkende beelden” (Warning: this book contains disturbing images), followed by a beheading in Iraq, a stoning in Iran and an execution in Saudi-Arabia. Wilders bought his Koran recently in East Jerusalem.
“The film is not just about the Koran but happens inside the Koran ,” Wilders told De Telegraaf. “The edges of the book remain visible all the time. Inside these edges we will show images of what the Koran verses prescribe. Those who are shocked at these things should not get angry with me but with the people who perpetrated these things.”
Wilders said he had underestimated the amount of work involved in making the film. “It is so much work. We will still be busy for a couple of weeks.” He hopes the film will be ready in early March.
If the film merely shows what the Koran verses say, however horrible these things may be to Western eyes, it will hardly be “provocative” to radical Muslims. Wilders announced earlier that he intends to rip the Koran to pieces, but if he does not literally do so, or break other Muslim prohibitions such as depicting the Prophet Muhammed, writing Koranic verses on naked bodies or showing pigs, few Muslims will be insulted. In other words: as long as Wilders’ film only shocks Westerners and Westernized (secular) Muslims with disturbing images, but not Koran-abiding Muslims with what they consider to be blasphemous, the movie is unlikely to lead to indignation among Muslims extremists.
Comparing the Koran to Mein Kampf may shock the Dutch, but it will harldy shock al-Qa’eda or the Salafists. On the contrary, they might even consider it a compliment.
Meanwhile. Wilders has received the public support of the small Dutch fundamentalist Calvinist party SGP. Cees Van der Staaij, the SGP leader, wants Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch Foreign Minister, to tell Islamic countries they are hypocrites if they complain about religious insults in the Netherlands.
“If you see what is spewed out daily via various Arabic broadcasters over the world in hatred against the Jews, Israel, the US and the West, the criticism of Wilders' yet-to-be-shown mini-film is pure hypocrisy,” Van der Staaij said yesterday during an exchange in the Dutch Lower House. Deputy Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, who replied for Minister Verhaegen, acknowledged that Van der Staaij has a point. Verhaegen, who is currently touring Muslim countries to explain the Dutch position, told the press in Syria that the Dutch government does not agree with Wilders’ view on Islam. “We are a country where Muslims and Christians can live together in harmony,” Verhaegen said. Last week, the Grand Mufti of Syria threatened the Netherlands if Wilders were to insult Islam.
The Dutch government, however, defends Wilders’ freedom of speech. Yesterday, Ernst Hirsch Ballin, the Dutch Minister of Justice, informed his EU colleagues that The Hague would not prohibit Wilders from making his film. Hirsch Ballin told the Dutch media that the EU did not discuss taking common measures in the event that the film should lead to Muslim violence.
The Dutch Muslim Council has called Wilders a “racist, fascist and authoritarian” and a threat to Dutch society. Several Dutch Muslim and leftist organizations and individuals have lodged more than 40 complaints against Wilders for incitement to racial hatred. Gerard Spong, one of the leading (and most expensive) lawyers in the country, has offered to defend their cases free of charge. Spong was a friend of the late Pim Fortuyn. Following the murder of Fortuyn in 2002 he lodged complaints against several Dutch politicians for having contributed to the hate campaign against Fortuyn which resulted in his assassination by a political adversary.
Spong, who is also the lawyer of a Dutch teenager indicted on murder charges in the case of Natalee Holloway, an American teenager who disappeared in Arubu in May 2005, told Dutch television that “Wilders cannot be compared to Fortuyn because Wilders incites hatred against Muslims, which Fortuyn who had sex with Moroccan boys in dark rooms, did not do. […] When Wilders says that half the Koran has to be ripped to pieces and burned, he is inciting hatred.” According to Spong the Dutch public prosecutor is a coward who is afraid to prosecute Wilders because the latter will claim that it is a political prosecution.