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Stoking the fires of Islamophobia

by Archives April 8, 2008

If there is such a thing as certainty in this world, it is that Geert Wilders will not be chosen as Time’s “Person of the Year.” The infamous Dutch politician and Party for Freedom leader released a documentary titled Fitna, meaning, “disagreement and division among people,” on the Internet last week.
To say that the film is “controversial” would be a severe understatement. This aptly named “shockumentary” has one goal in mind: to demonize Islam and goad Muslims into fuming anger.
Do not let its runtime fool you – 17 minutes is all Wilders needs to promote Islamophobia. He has basically created a modern-day Birth of a Nation.
By juxtaposing a selection of Suras (chapters) from the Koran with grisly videos of murder and death, Wilders attempts to illustrate that violence is supposedly glorified and advocated by Muslims everywhere.
The entire film is eye opening in a Michael Moore-esque fashion, in that it yearns to inform even the simplest of simpletons by coupling shocking footage and sound bytes together, when in fact there is very little correlation between them.
Most people would agree that the featured newspaper headlines, media clips, and Suras are taken wildly out of context, and that fundamentalists are responsible for any violence carried out in the name of Islam.
Wilders also used filmmaker Theo Van Gogh’s murder in 2004 – Van Gogh was killed in the aftermath of his own anti-Islam movie, Submission – to his advantage. After Van Gogh’s murder, Wilders was more than aware that his own documentary would be perceived as being only more controversial and damning.
What Wilders succeeded in achieving is the cowardly and unwarranted demonization of a religion, the consequences of which immediately appeared following its release.
The unanimous condemnation against Fitna is especially vocal in Sydney, Australia, where tensions between Arab communities and first-generation Aussies have been high since the December 2005 Cronulla riots following the attack of three lifeguards.
Ahmed Zahra is a representative for Muslim Village, the most influential website of its kind in Australia. “He’s a dream come true for extremists. They need people like him,” wrote Zahra, explaining Wilders’ relevance. “He incites anger and in turn, this helps prove his point that Islam promotes violence. That could not be further from the truth.”
Demonstrations are currently taking place in Sidney, and protests are being held at the Dutch consulate on a daily basis.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has also called for Muslim nations to boycott Dutch products, and other countries such as Indonesia have completely blocked YouTube to prevent people from watching Fitna.
Criticism of Wilder’s documentary has also caught The Arab European League’s attention. They replied with Almouftinoun, a short film that illustrates the ease with which one could take verses from any holy book and make it look as if it promotes brutality.
Another of the film’s ramifications is increased religious tension in the Netherlands, a nation in which over a million Muslims reside, where Wilder’s party has gained notoriety. The filmmaker/politician now finds himself in a scorned yet shining limelight.
If extremists around the world use this movie as an excuse to terrorize and murder innocent people, they will be playing right into Wilders’ hands.

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