Right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders wanted to provoke an international scandal with his anti-Islam film “Fitna.” He succeeded. He talks to SPIEGEL about his crusade against Islam. SPIEGEL: Last Thursday, you released a long-awaited film that rails against the Koran. Heads of government across the EU are already discussing it and in Afghanistan Dutch flags are going up in flames. Have you achieved your goal: to provoke?
As Islamic finance and banking products continue to grow, Switzerland will soon get its second Shariah compliant bank in less than two years. The bank I set to be launched before the end of the year, and will target investors and wealthy individuals from the Gulf region. The new bank will be the second private Islamic bank established in Switzerland; the first Shariah complaint bank – Faisal Private Bank – opened in Geneva in 2006. Among the principals advocated by Shariah banking institutions include the forbidding of Muslims from usury, receiving, or paying interest on loans, and Islamic bankers and finance institutions cannot receive private funds for transactions involving alcohol, gambling, pornography, tobacco, weapons, or pork.
Potsdam, Germany – An Iranian writer in exile Monday described a Satanic Verses stage play and the anti-Islam short movie Fitna as “pure provocation” towards Muslims which played into the hands of fundamentalists. Speaking on Deutschlandradio Kultur, a national public radio channel, writer Bahman Nirumand described the two productions as “psychological warfare” under the mantle of “artistic freedom.” “I can assure you that the fundamentalists are extremely gratified by it,” he said. “They can use it to boost their position.” He compared the effect to a game of tennis, with one player exploiting the other’s unwise strokes. Nirumand appealed to Western intellectuals to cease this form of provocation and to differentiate Islam’s many aspects. “These allegedly artistic productions simply equate all Islam with violence,” he said. The first stage adaptation of The Satanic Verses, a controversial novel by Indian-born author Salman Rushdie, won applause from a German audience at its premiere, held under police guard on Sunday afternoon at Potsdam near Berlin. The adaptation in German digested Rushdie’s 700-page, 1988 book to a four-hour matinee at the Hans Otto Theatre in the city of Potsdam. The characters include a prophet named Mahound, a thinly disguised reference to Mohammed.
Boubakeur el Hakim, 24, is on trial this month in Paris accused with four other young Frenchmen of funneling French Muslim fighters to Iraq. The case is a delicate one, as France is largely strongly opposed to the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq, but also struggles against homegrown terrorism. In a French radio interview on RTL radio broadcast from Baghdad in 2003, el Hakim urged Parisian friends to join him on the battlefield. The key concern for the French police has been what these fighters do when they return to France. The fighters claimed to have first traveled to Syria to take Arabic lessons and receive basic weapon training prior to arrival in Iraq.
Reactions of Belgian Muslims across Flanders concerning the _Fitna’ film are mixed in the intensity of their criticism and concern. Farid El Machaoud of the League of Muslims in Belgium said: I feel slightly offended by certain scenes and among other things, the fact that certain verses from the Koran were taken out of context. The Federation of Moroccan Organizations, the Union of Turkish Associations, and the Immigrant Youth Work Platform said in a joint statement that the film has everything to do with xenophobia and racism and nothing to do with freedom of speech. Flemish Minister for Integration Marino Keulen supports the right for politicians to make independent films but criticized _Fitna’ as lacking in any kind of nuance.
A stage adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses debuted without incident in Germany Sunday, despite worries about the controversial production before opening night. German police were dispatched both inside and outside the Hans Otto Theatre in Potsdam, located southwest of Berlin, for Sunday’s nearly four-hour-long performance. Some German Muslim groups had publicly complained about the production before the curtain went up on what is billed as the first stage play of Rushdie’s novel. The adaptation, for which Rushdie gave his consent, was created by the theatre’s director Uwe Eric Laufenberg and playwright Marcus Mislin. Police said that there were no direct threats or disturbances surrounding the event, but that uniformed and undercover officers had been assigned as a precaution. Indian-born British author Rushdie has long been the target of extremists for his novel, which was deemed blasphemous by many in the Muslim world.
According to the Vatican, Islam has overtaken Roman Catholicism as the single biggest religious denomination in the world. Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, who compiled the Vatican`s 2008 statistics, claims that Muslims make up 19.2 percent of the world population and Catholics 17.4 percent. Referring to 2006, Formenti told Vatican newspaper L`Osservatore Romano, “For the first time in history we are no longer at the top: the Muslims have overtaken us.“ Formenti explained that while the percentage of Catholics was fairly stable worldwide, that the percentage of Muslims has grown with higher birth rates. The data on Muslim populations was compiled by individual countries and reported by the United Nations while the Vatican vouches for its own statistics.
Governments and citizens of Muslim countries throughout the world have voiced condemnation of the anti-Quran film made by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders. In Indonesia, President Susilo Bambang said Wilders would be barred from entering the archipelago of islands that make up the country. In Pakistan, several thousand took to the streets of Karachi to protest against both the release of the film and the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad reprinted in Denmark. Iran’s parliament speaker called on Muslim nations to boycott Dutch products in response to the film, asking Muslims to avoid buying products made in those countries which allow themselves to insult Islam. In Jordan, a group of lawmakers demanded that the government sever its ties with the Netherlands. In Malaysia, as in many countries, Muslims protested outside the Dutch Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, shouting Long live Islam and Crush the Netherlands. The ambassadors of 26 Islamic countries want the Netherlands to investigate whether the film can be banned. The meeting at the ministry in the Hague was attended by ambassadors of countries including Indonesia, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
The questions yet to be effectively answered by the United Nations and the governments of Spain and Morocco – what to do with the Western Sahara? To whom does this problem concern, encrusted in the Spanish Foreign Affairs? Will there be any political space to discuss it in the Spanish Congress? Will the UN ever be able to solve the situation?
A growing number of ethnic Dutch youth in Limburg are converting to Islam. According to different Muslim organizations, over the past three years, on hundred men and women had converted in the province of Limburg alone. According to the Limburg Islamic Council, mostly seek very orthodox Islamic movements. These range from youth studying, and alter converting to Islam, girls marrying Muslim men and then convert, and highly educated professionals. The president of the Limburg Islamic Council said that he is aware of the _trend’ of conversion among ethnic Dutch youth, but does not want to speak of a _large movement’ – yet confirms that the number of converts has risen in the last few years.