A so-called Muslim-hating Iranian refugee who nearly killed a dentist was sentenced to four years in prison. Alberta provincial court judge, Mike Allen, noted that Mohammadreza Gholamrezazadehshirai, 46, and others like him must be deterred from engaging in violent acts spurred by racial bias and religious intolerance. In October 2007, Gholamrezazadehshirazi walked into the Affinity Dental Clinic in Edmonton with a severe toothache, and while treated, claimed the staff were worse that the religious leaders in Iran, returning to attack dentist Fathi-Afshar with a broken bottle, nearly killing him. Judge Allen claims the accused expressed strong hatred toward Muslims and assumed that the dentist was a Muslim. Allen called the sentence merciful as Gholamrezazadehshirai pleaded guilty, does not have a criminal record and was suffering from depression at the time of the attack.
Iran plans to counter the inflammatory _Fitna’ video made by Dutch legislator Geert Wilders with two documentary films. The films, titled _Reply to Fitna’ and _Beyond Fitna’ aim at what the filmmakers call neutralizing the plot by the Dutch against Islam. The two Iranian filmmakers have also announced their readiness to debate Wilders over his film. Tehran has condemned Wilders’ film, calling it insulting and anti-Islamic and as symbolic for the deep antagonism of some Western countries towards Muslims and Islam.
A German theater has brought Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses to the stage, with no sign of trouble after authorities promised thorough security precautions. The Hans-Otto Theater in Potsdam says its version, which has 12 actors and ran for nearly four hours, is the first theatrical presentation of the novel. Iran’s late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because The Satanic Verses allegedly insulted Islam. The threat forced Rushdie to live in hiding for a decade. Theater director Uwe Eric Laufenberg had invited the author to Sunday’s premiere, but it had been unclear whether he would attend and Rushdie could not be seen in the audience. I think it is time for the Muslim world to say exactly what it finds so provocative about this book. Simply to say, _This book insults us’ is no longer enough at some point, Laufenberg said. He argued that the theatrical version could help to focus on the book’s contents and ease objections.
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.
On Friday, Muslim nations condemned the film ‘Fitna’ which accuses the Quran of inciting violence, and Dutch Muslim leaders urged restraint. Iran called the film heinous, blasphemous, and anti-Islamic. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation and former Dutch colony, said that the film was an insult to Islam, hidden under the cover of freedom of expression. The Saudi Arabian embassy in the Hague said that the film was full of errors, incorrect allegations, and could lead towards hatred of Muslims. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the film.
Britain was dragged into the controversy over an anti-Islam film made by a far-Right Dutch MP after Iran condemned its appearance on a UK-based video-sharing website today. “This heinous measure by a Dutch lawmaker and a British establishment… is indicative of the continuation of the evilness and deep vengeance such Western nationals have against Islam and Muslims,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said. Mohammad Ali Hosseini, called on the Dutch, British and other EU governments to block any further showing of “this blasphemous, anti-Islamic and anti-cultural film”. The 17-minute “documentary” by Geert Wilders had been broadcast on the internet with the aid of an organisation based in Britain, he said. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, also condemned the film, titled Fitna, an Arabic word meaning “strife”, while Bangladesh warned it could have “grave consequences”. A coalition of Jordanian media said it would sue Mr Wilders and urged Arab leaders meeting at a summit in Syria this weekend to review ties with the Netherlands and Denmark. Michael Theodoulou reports.Governments in the Muslim world are wary of a repeat of what happened two years ago when the publication in Denmark of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad ignited rioting in a dozen countries, leading to about 50 deaths.
Iran’s deputy foreign minister called on the Dutch government to stop a far-right politician from distributing an anti-Islam film. “I think they can stop the movie,” Mehdi Safari told reporters after meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen. “The government is responsible.” However, the Dutch government has tried twice, unsuccessfully, to convince the filmmaker to abandon plans for the film’s release. Safari said that the film would have “far-reaching consequences.” Iran’s ambassador to the Netherlands Bozorgmehr Ziaran called Wilders a warmonger, saying that “our conclusion is he wants to demonize Muslims.”
Dutch and Iranian officials are split over whether to intercede in the release of a controversial new movie. Iranian officials have accused the unidentified film of portraying the holy Muslim text as an inspiration for killing, but Dutch counterparts have not taken action against Dutch parliament member responsible for the film’s creation. Iranian officials have also directly asked the Netherlands to ban the film. Concerning the freedom of expression, Iranian justice minister Gholam-Hossein Elham said: we must respect freedom of expression, but the insulting of sacredness and ethical values under threat pretext is totally unacceptable. Geert Wilders created the film, but has been warned that he may be forced to flee if reactions worsen.
By Reza Aslan Every time I hear about how Sen. Barack Obama is going to “re-brand” America’s image in the Middle East, I can’t help but think about Jimmy Carter’s toast. When the idealistic Democrat came to Iran in 1977 to ring in the new year with Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the country’s much-despised despot, throngs of young, hopeful Iranians lined the streets to welcome the new American president. After eight years of the Nixon and Ford administrations’ blind support for the shah’s brutal regime, Iranians thrilled to Carter’s promise to re-brand America’s image abroad by focusing on human rights. That call even let many moderate, middle-class Iranians dare to hope that they might ward off the popular revolution everyone knew was coming. But at that historic New Year’s dinner, Carter surprised everyone. In a shocking display of ignorance about the precarious political situation in Iran, he toasted the shah for transforming the country into “an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.” With those words, Carter unwittingly lit the match of revolution.
FOR SIX years President Bush has told Americans they face a “long war” against a global Islamic terrorist movement that, like the Cold War, will challenge a generation. A crucial if so far understated issue of the presidential campaign is whether that sweeping vision of U.S. national security will survive past January 2009. For the most part, the Republican candidates agree with Mr. Bush about the dimensions and centrality of the Islamic extremist threat. Most of the Democrats do not. From that ideological difference flow contrasting practical approaches to Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, as well as differences in the weight the next president may give to other foreign policy challenges.