Invest in Dutch flags: Netherlands MP's anti-Koran film ready to set it off; Update: Hirsi Ali translation added

We’ve been remiss in not blogging this so let me put it on your radar screen now as the film’s due to drop in the next week or two. Michael van der Galien’s got all the links you need at PJM. No one knows yet precisely what the film will be — thoughtful Hirsi Ali-esque critique of the Koran as “a source of inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror” or protest porn of producer/MP Geert Wilders tearing out pages and wiping himself? — but the goal seems to be to elicit a patented Islamic overreaction. Mission soon to be accomplished:

Last year, Wilders sought to have the Koran banned in the Netherlands and compared it with Adolf Hilter’s “Mein Kampf.” He said that if Muslims wanted to stay in the country they should tear out half the Koran and throw it away…

Last week, Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun said that if the Freedom Party leader tears up or burns a Koran in his film, “this will simply mean he is inciting wars and bloodshed. And he will be responsible. It is the responsibility of the Dutch people to stop Wilders.”

And from Galien’s post, ye olde good cop/bad cop:

The Dutch Muslim Council has warned the government: if the movie is broadcasted anywhere, riots are certain. “We fear for the worst,” stated the council. “The youths on the streets will have the last word. We can’t stop them.”

The embassies are on worldwide alert and Dutch counterterror officials have told Wilders to make himself scarce ahead of the release as they apparently can’t guarantee his safety once the film’s out. What does our patron saint Ayaan, who wrote the script for the film that earned Theo Van Gogh a knife in the chest, think of Wilders’s stunt? She’s against it, surprisingly, dismissing it as a provocation. The interview’s in Dutch so I don’t know her exact reasoning but I’m guessing she distinguishes his film from hers by their respective intentions, hers having been to raise awareness of the subjugation of Muslim women and his being to drive the perpetually aggrieved into the freaky deakiest show of grievance yet. Which is to say, her film is commentary and his is “mere” incitement. Is it, though? Or is it actually a sort of experiment, with the film as hypothesis and the reaction the empirical “proof”? Here’s Wilders:

In an open letter in newspaper De Volkskrant yesterday, Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders criticised the commotion over his Koran film. With their panicky reactions, politicians and authorities are proving that Islam is an intolerant ideology, in his view.

Wilders uses half of his letter to sketch a contrast between Islam and Christianity. “Imagine that (…) it became known that I was going to make a film to demonstrate the Fascist character of the Bible. Say that I had urged in a letter a few months earlier that the Bible should be banned. (…) Would Premier Balkenende then (…) have spoken of a serious crisis with international effects? Would there (…) have been a special meeting of ministers? Would the chief editors (…) in public broadcasting have conferred about how to deal with the film?” (…) “Of course not.”…

“The fact that a not yet shown film of about 10 minutes could according to some lead to economic boycotts, riots and other horrible things says everything about the nature of Islam. Nothing about me. The cabinet acknowledges with its panicky reaction that Islam is not comparable to Christianity, but is a unique ideology. And this ideology thus demands a separate, unique approach. The Koran film has thus already demonstrated its usefulness.”

This gets us back into the endless debate over the “tiny minority” and whether it’s fair to blame all of Islam for the hysterical elements, but either way he is making a point here beyond simply getting his rocks off at the idea of pissing off Muslims. The Dutch foreign minister tried to shrug that off by telling an international conference recently, “[F]reedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend.” Except that it does, doesn’t it? As another man in a not altogether dissimilar situation said recently, “It’s my bloody right to do so.” I’m surprised Hirsi Ali’s taking the “nuanced” view on that in this case.

Update: Myrtus, the Dutch blogger linked above, offers this translation of Hirsi Ali’s comments. It’s not the film she opposes, it’s Wilders’s desire to ban the Koran. That makes more sense.

The Netherlands is on high alert in light of the upcoming movie by Wilders. What’s your view on this?

That movie passes for freedom of speech. It can and should be allowed. Police commissioner Welten fears that it’s provocative. Of course it is. Wilders has tackled an issue and wants to nailed it. I don’t believe in his answers. I’m not in favor of banning books, neither of the Koran or Mein Kampf.

Verdonk and Wilders don’t have the proper solutions for The Netherlands. It has to come from the bigger parties and that’s where there is a lack of leadership. Do you remember the Centrum Party? It remained marginal. Then came Bolkenstein, he took charge of the immigration and Islam problem. But now there is no Bolkenstein, nowhere in parliament. If a new Bolkenstein comes along, Wilders’ followers will once again return to the big parties.