If you have no idea what this is all about:
Read: Wikipedia on Fitna
And as for Dr. Chandra’s hope that Muslims will react peacefully, sorry to burst your bubble (but as if you don’t already know what’s gonna happen)…
How do these protests all the way over in Malaysia and Indonesia even have any impact on a far-away Dutchman?
Extremists must be taken to task too
HAVING read Dr Chandra Muzaffar’s letter “Film is fitnah indeed” (The Star, April 1), I agree with his conclusion that Geert Wilders’ film intentionally misrepresents Islam as a religion that discriminates against non-Muslims, although I do not see why Dr Chandra considers Wilders’ views as racist when Islam is a religion, not an ethnicity.
Joining him in protest are Muslim groups and leaders worldwide, including former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Barisan Nasional Youth, the National Fatwa Council and the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia. They are all saddened by the film’s wrong portrayal of Islam as inherently violent and intolerant.
But I am also saddened to note that even as the Muslim leaders are outraged at Westerners deemed to be mocking Islam, not a peep is uttered about the extremists who call for hatred and death against non-Muslims – as captured on video in the Dutch film.
The only reason Wilders’ film is considered to be smearing Islam is because it repeatedly juxtaposes verses from the Quran with videos of terrorist attacks and extremist imams preaching hatred of non-Muslims.
If so, then why aren’t moderate Muslim leaders and groups condemning the extremists who interpret those verses as justification for their hate-mongering? Without their antics, Wilders’ film would have little material to cause provocation with.
These extremists are the ones who cause some Westerners to view Islam as a violent religion. These extremists are the ones hijacking and re-branding Islam as a religion of war and intolerance in the public eye.
In my opinion, such extremists are far more to blame for giving Islam a negative image than lone individuals such as Wilders. Who is more likely to give a religion a bad name – some mocking “outsider” who has an ulterior political motive or violent “insiders” who actually claim to follow that religion?
Yet, none of the moderate Muslim leaders denounce or reject the violent, hateful extremists even as they protest against a film prominently featuring them.
Instead, more calls for boycotts and more protests are made against Wilders – a man whose image of Islam is undoubtedly coloured by those very extremists. What image does this portray when every time, Muslim leaders attack the messenger (Wilders or newspaper cartoons), but not the message that they are noisily proclaiming – about extremists who are successfully using Islam as a rallying cry for violence and hatred?
In fact, I am certain that Wilders is counting on such a knee-jerk reaction from Muslims, with maybe some riots and spontaneous murders of innocent bystanders thrown in (such as what happened with the Jyllands-Posten controversy), in order to prove his point to the world.
If his aim is to influence public opinion into seeing all Muslims as hate-filled extremists, then I’m afraid that the prominent Muslim moderates are unwittingly aiding his agenda with their very selective denouncements.
SCOTT THONG YU YUEN,
Here is Dr. Chandra’s letter that I used as an excuse to send in mine:
Film is ‘fitnah’ indeed
ANOTHER European has done it again. Anti-immigration right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders has made a15-minute film called Fitna (defamation) that features violent imagery of terrorist attacks in New York and Madrid set against passages from the Quran that are taken out of context. The film has been posted on Internet sites.
The film is indeed a fitnah against Islam and the truth. It deliberately attempts to project the Quran as a scripture that justifies and legitimises terrorism and violence perpetrated against innocent civilians.
This is a calumny against the Quran that warns against wanton violence and prohibits aggression.
While Fitna is being posted on the Internet, a theatre in Potsdam, Germany is planning to stage a play based on Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses that also misrepresents the Quran and Muslim history and had provoked Muslim reactions almost 20 years ago.
In 2006, a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad linking him to bombs and terror. Earlier this year, some Danish newspapers republished the offensive cartoons.
Is it just Islam that is under attack? Isn’t it true that Jesus has also been vilified through films and books? In fact, damning and defaming religion in general is the pastime of a segment of secular Europe. Among religions, the targeting of Islam appears to be more systematic and consistent.
There is a reason for this. It is part of the drive by the centres of power in the West to impose their hegemony over the Muslim world. As we have pointed out so often in the past, control over oil and strategic sea-lanes, the majority of which border Muslim countries, is the motivating force.
However, to establish this control and dominance, the centres of power also have to target Islam and its followers. Islam has often served as the ideological inspiration for resistance to Western hegemony. This is why hegemonic forces have invariably sought to malign the religion in order to destroy resistance and dominance.
Predictably, a number of Muslim governments and religious leaders have issued statements condemning the film. The secretary-general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu,has described the film as “incitement for hatred and an act of defamation of religions, solely intended to provoke unrest and intolerance among people of different religious beliefs.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the airing of Fitna “ in the strongest terms” and added “ there is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence.”
The Dutch government, it should also be emphasised, has distanced itself from the Wilders’ film.
Muslims in different parts of the world have been holding demonstrations to protest against the film.
It is important that protests remain peaceful. Otherwise, Muslims would be playing into the hands of those who are hell-bent on portraying Islam and Muslims as violence prone.
More than organising protests, the substantial Muslim population in the Netherlands should mobilise resources and produce films that tell the truth about the Quran, the Prophet, and Muslim history. These films should be shown in cinemas and posted on the Internet.
The Dutch people should be made aware that there are references to violence in most scriptures – the Torah and the Talmud; the old and new Testaments; the Quran and the Hadiths; the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. What one should not do is to take them out of context, distort and misinterpret them.
There has been a proposal to boycott Dutch products in Malaysia. It is worth considering. Middle and high-income Muslim countries import a lot of foodstuff from the Netherlands.
As an immediate measure, it may be more feasible for Muslim governments to subject to a thorough review all current projects and contracts with Dutch companies.
Both a consumer boycott and a review would serve to persuade Dutch citizens that it is in their own interest to isolate of racists like Geert Wilders.
DR CHANDRA MUZAFFAR,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).