Prime minister Balkenende thanked for PR of Fitna

Fitna the movie (Geert Wilders)

This Fitna film is a real hype, there are just to many Dutch stories to cover. Here are some I found the most interesting:

Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende will be thanked (NL) in the credits of the Islam critical film Fitna for his PR and marketing activities. At least that is what Party For Freedom (PVV) member Raymond de Roon told the prime minister in an parliamentary debate today.

De Roon blamed prime minister Balkenende for his mismanagement. The news about the movie after all, was not made public by Geert Wilders, but was leaked by his officials at the National Coordinators office for Terrorism. “The press then has waged the dog and the government did nothing to stop it”. De Roon says this has lead to demonstrations in Arabic countries and ask the prime minister: “does the government recognize it’s responsibility?”.

After the debate, Geert Wilders told the press that he is still working on the technical aspects of the website of the film. He wants to make sure it can handle the expected massive traffic and that it’s hacker safe. Although he did not set a date, he did announce (NL) he will release the film before the 1st of April. Thus this is not going to be an Aprils fools scheme as some think. But we could have a Good Friday.

But not if the Dutch churches have their way. In a joint statement, the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN), the Council of Churches in the Netherlands, the Muslims and Government Contact Body (CMO) and the Islam Contact Group (CGI) yesterday expressed their "great concern" about the Islam critical film.

"Although our freedom of speech allows the publication of this film, we consider such provocation undesirable," the statement said. It is "reprehensible if the sacred (elements) in our religions are ridiculed and our faith offended. We therefore forcefully reject it if the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed are treated with contempt and slandered."

Well I guess we first have to see the film before we know what ‘sacred’ elements these Christians are defending for their Muslim brothers. Let just hope for them that they are not defending being called apes and pigs in these ‘sacred’ text.

In response, Arabist Hans Jansen criticized the subservient role he considers the churches and the government are adopting towards Islam. In particular, the Christian democrats (CDA), the biggest government party, are behaving "incomprehensibly" indulgently and naively, he argues. "Don't they even have an intern in the party who could look up what happened with the church under Islam?"

Perhaps ironically, ordinary Muslims in Iran seem not to care about the Wilders film. TV programme Nova interviewed Teheranis on the streets and reported that many of them admired the Netherlands' freedom of speech. A rather orthodox-looking elderly woman applauded Wilders' film plan, saying Iran was "more immoral now" than it was under the Shah.

That’s it for today, to be continued.

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