Dutch politician will not attend film premier

The premier for “Islam Rising: Geert Wilders Warning to the West”, a film by the American Christian Action Network (CAN), has been canceled. Wilders had initially planned to attend the Los Angeles premier but pulled out due anti-gay comments made by one of the film’s backers. The premier organizers have now canceled the event to “avoid creating any false impressions about our agenda and goals, or those of Geert Wilders”, Dutch News reports.

Media attention to Wilders continues with a feature article in the NRC Handelsblad exploring the difficulties teachers face “explaining to their students that anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders is allowed to say things that would not be tolerated in school”. The feature suggests that Wilders’ anti-Islam rhetoric has created challenges for teachers: they must negotiate on the one hand students concerned that they will be made to leave the Netherlands if Wilders comes to power, and on the other those who repeat derogatory rhetoric because they are quoting a prominent politician.

Far-right politician Geert Wilders shows anti-Islam film in the House of Lords

The Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was banned from entering the UK last year, has now shown his anti-Islam film at the House of Lords. The screening and subsequent press-conference was accompanied by a supporting demonstration of the right-wing British National Party and many counter-protesters outside Parliament.

In an article for The Independent, entitled “Islamophobia on tour: Wilders comes to Britain”, the author claims Britain should have renewed the ban to prevent Wilders from promoting his racist views. Indeed he repeated his view that Islam was a fascist ideology, called the Prophet Mohammed “a mass murderer, a barbarian and a paedophile” and suggested that immigration from Islamic countries to Europe should be stopped.

Only few members of the Houses of Commons and House of Lords attended the press conference — six in total –, among them Lord Pearson, who invited Wilders, and Baroness Cox. The remaining audience of around 60 was made up of parliamentary staff. The whole event has stirred much criticism and counter-protests.

Netherlands reduces terror level

The Dutch counter terrorism unit NCTb has downgraded the risk of a terrorist attack in the Netherlands to ‘limited’, its first reduction in two years. According to NCTb the reduction resulted from internal divisions and lack of leadership among terrorist organizations, and a shift in focus to theatres of international conflict. The “limited” level is the second of four levels of alert in the Netherlands. It had been raised to “substantial” in March 2008 after concerns over MP Geert Wilders’ film Fitna.

‘Beyond Fitna’ goes online

An Iranian film made in response to Geert Wilders’ film titled _Fitna,’ called _Beyond Fitna,’ has been completed and released on the internet. A spokesperson for the Iranian organization which produced the film, _Islam and Chirstendom,’ said that Beyond Fitna honors all monotheistic religions and is a response to anti-Islamic propaganda. The video is presumed to be available on several video sharing websites.

Freedom of Expression or the Right to Insult: Could the Wilders Film Have Been Banned?

Calls from countries with a largely Muslim population to ban Geert Wilders film Fitna have fallen on deaf ears in the Netherlands, where freedom of expression is seen as an unassailable right. NRC Handelsblad’s legal affairs correspondent, explains the options. No, at least not in principle. The Dutch constitution does not allow censorship, which is defined in Article 7 as the freedom to publish or show anything without prior consent. This freedom applies not just to the printing press. It also covers art, movies, photos, cartoons – indeed any medium that can be used to express oneself. It’s a basic civil right and a founding principle of Dutch democracy. Basic civil rights also include the freedom of religion, protection from discrimination and the right to equal treatment. In democratic societies these basic rights are sacrosanct and protect individual citizens from the potential abuse of power by governments. Folkert Jensma report.