Thanks God for Wikipedia ‘cause you can look up the meaning of the word. According to the article the Arabic fitna can mean “disagreement and division among people”, or a “test of faith in times of trial”
Maybe it’s better that I write this article a couple of days after watching the short film, because my first reaction would’ve caused me to present a distorted picture of what this documentary actually means and what’s its message. Those who don’t know yet, Geert Wilders Dutch right-winged parliamentary representative made a short documentary (hm…) about the Qur’an and its verses that preach violence and bloodshed. Of course after the murder of Theo van Gogh (moviemaker, in 2004 a Dutch citizen of Moroccan decent sent him to the after life with 8 bullets, 2 knives, 5 messages and a slit throat) it is understandable that after the release of such a film, the producer has to be protected 24/7. Curiously this “masterpiece” didn’t cause much of an international scandal yet, like for example the Danish depictions of Mohammed. Probably this means something, but it is still too early.
The purpose of this article is not to burry the hatchet between Christians, Jews and Muslims even deeper; my scope is to analyzed the message of it. Let’s start with the first 10 minutes after having watched the movie…The film ends with the tearing of the pages and I am gripped by anger. Once again the events of 9/11, the London and Madrid bombing, the Iraqi news reporter’s decapitation unfold in front of my eyes. I am outraged by the speeches of the imams and muftis, by the violent verses of the Qur’an, the gender mutilation of African women and I could continue with all those that disturb the viewer in a quarter of an hour. And still after 10 minutes I calm down, drink a cup of tea and start thinking. Unfortunately many people after watching a documentary like this forget to think it over and they further fuel their initial anger. Where should I start this analysis? Maybe by telling that someone really distorted the message. Let’s just say that Wilders’ extreme right politics could be blamed for this. Let’s suppose…In the same time I look up the portrait of Wilders (this is a personal remark) and if it’s like I saw Vadim Tudor (leader of the Romanian extreme right party) with blond hair and slightly younger. I recommend you to compare them 😉
In my free time I talked to a couple of bloggers who wrote about this issue or had some comments to say and the image that I was expecting unfolded. Many condemn the film, even more approve it and some of them start analyzing it objectively. In this article I am not reaching towards objectivity as I include my personal experience to…Let’s start with Theo van Gogh. A successful producer, he firmly believed in the freedom of speech, his work and opinions were always nonconformist. His tragic death turned into national mourning and a monument was razed. Unfortunately I couldn’t meet him personally so my image of him is based on his actions. I truly honor these features of his persona, but when I hear things like he called Muslims “goat-fuckers” then unfortunately I have doubts about his persona. Because such public expressions as “rats” were heard the last time during the rule of those who considered themselves übermenschen. I am not saying that he was a Nazi, but it looks like he didn’t know the boundaries of freedom of expression. The European Convention on Human Rights protects this basic right, which can be restricted if necessary in a democratic society. (Article 10). And we come across the following in one of the restrictions: if “the protection of the reputation or rights of others” so requires. Well I don’t really know that with expressions like that how much Theo helped the reputation of Dutch Muslims. It could be counter argued instantly that they are allowed to do that and we are not. Yes flags of Western countries are burned; bodies are torn apart on the streets. But everyone does this? And why do some do this? And if we consider ourselves more evolved, with all our Human Rights instruments, then why do we allow someone to make such remarks? Don’t get me wrong but stigmatizing a whole community like this in such a corner of the Earth that forbids it should be restricted. The murder is condemnable but remarks like this are the last thing an economically and socially frustrated immigrant needs. And let’s not forget that these countries need the immigrants (of course besides refugees who sometimes come from places where the West interfered).
According to one remark such a film was needed. I’m not saying that it wasn’t needed, because someone from the West has to tell his point of view, but the question is if this kind of message was necessary? Let’s not forget that after watching it, many can come to the conclusion that all Muslim countries and people are like this. More than 800 million Muslims live on this Earth. Everyone is like this? Who talks about Muslims in India who can switch to Christianity and they don’t loose there heads for it. Or who talks about the secular Turkey, who says that there are only a couple of fanatical countries where they chop of your limbs (Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Iran, and Afghanistan). And sometimes why do they burn the Western flags? Because sometimes the West put its greedy little hands where it wasn’t supposed to and makes a bigger mess. It’s evident that such actions will give rise to fanatics because I myself wouldn’t stand there and do nothing when everything dear to me disappeared.
Probably an extremist movie like this is needed so it balances the Muslim extremism and creates a certain balance. But this peace of work has to be cataloged as such; an expression of extremism. Christian churches were targeted but no one says that twice as many mosques were damaged. The question of the burqua (dress of Muslim women) was also raised. Why should it be banned? I don’t understand this? If someone can ware a suit or can go to a club in her thong and can paint his hair green, then I don’t understand what the problem is if someone sticking to her traditions wears this gown.
Also information that could lead to confusion, are the statistics referring the Islamic population of Europe. I understand that they talk about Europe, but in many people’s eyes (especially Westerners) this notion ends at Prague or maybe at the Eastern border of Romania. Well then let’s talk about statistics. In Western Europe approx. 16 million Muslims reside. And in the new Member States you come across only a few. Let’s say about 1,5 million Muslims live in the 12 new member States (Bulgaria has a considerable percentage of Turks). Simple mathematics. If you take this 18 million and put it next to the 480 million inhabitants of the EU you come to the result that 3,5 % of the EU is Muslim. It’s not that worrying, isn’t it? For the fact that France’s population is almost 10% Muslim, only the French authorities can be blamed because they were the ones who allowed their residing (and let’s not forget that many come from the former colonies). I began searching for the documentary’s 57 million Muslims. Of course Russia and the Balkans are the two other regions with significant Muslim populations. If you take into account all the 16 million Muslims leaving in the entire Russia and add the 22 million Turkish, Albanians and Bosnians leaving in the Balkans then in this “really wide” concept of Europe you end up with 57 million (of course if you consider the Siberian Mongols and the Turkish from Istanbul as truly European; plus let’s not forget that these are historical populations that have been leaving there for centuries). But even more peculiar is the fact that both my Albanian and Turkish friends use alcohol J just like us. So this must mean that they are fanatics with bombs hanging of their necks? Let’s not forget that even among them religion is losing ground just like among us, but the media doesn’t handle this issue.
Another reason that I don’t take the side of this film is that as a member of a minority group I wouldn’t like if the majority would create so called “documentaries” of how my nomad ancestors would pillage and rape Medieval Europeans and that the Hungarian Guard now and then burns cars on the streets of Budapest. The message would be quite altered, wouldn’t it? Second of all I allow myself to be subjective, coming up with own personal examples. I share the same immigrant’s destiny just as my Moroccan counterparts. Although I am just a student for one year, still sometimes I feel the prejudice of the majority. Then try imagining what does Driss or Fatima feel like when they have to live a whole life like this. And they still smile, stand up to life and become your partners. And then all of that can apply to these people to?
I condemn every type of fanatic behavior and all those events presented in the film are highly condemnable. But this doesn’t represent all Muslims and unfortunately this is not the message it delivers. It’s sometimes shocking how certain imams preach hatred but then again this is one slide of a movie that consists of millions of slides. Sometimes we forget that our own Western policies lead to the increase of the jihads. Maybe if America didn’t turn the Middle East up-side down, then we wouldn’t be the witnesses of these events.
Maybe we needed this film and it’s true that it didn’t yet provoke the eco it was supposed to, but coming up with statements that Holland will turn into a Muslim state is just far fetched. Yes, it is a pressing social reality that Western Europe has to handle. Islam will need a place in the so called “Christian Europe”. Why are there mosques being built? I could ask the same way why are Christian churches being sold because the lack of believers? The problem is that with the help of our laws we create the opportunity for all to practice for ex. their own religion but when another group wants to benefit from these rights then we condemn them.
Most probably I shifted from my original objective of presenting only the message of this movie. I don’t study the Qur’an (never read it) and Arabic studies don’t belong to my field, but if these verses are true then each mentally normal person should ignore them. I recommend everyone to watch this short film but don’t forget that after the initial 10 minutes of rage, rationality has to kick in. It’s easy to stigmatize and condemn a whole group when you don’t have real tangible contact with them. Hopefully Wilders will get through this alive, but all of this is a clear message that there is still intolerance in Europe. From both sides.
30th of March 2008, Utrecht