By Majed Iqbal-
It was on September 30, 2005, when the Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s, published cartoons depicting the Prophet of Islam in an attempt to “test the level of tolerance of Muslims” living in Danish Society.
Two years on from the international furor created by these publications, a sequel with an even more loaded message to this issue is about to re-kindle another international situation.
Dutch lawmaker, MP Geert Wilders, who last summer called for the Quran to be banned in the Netherlands has now made a movie, entitled “Fitna”, to support his contention that the Koran inspires “intolerance, murder and terror.”
Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party had long threatened to release a film exhibiting, in his words, “the violent and fascist elements of the Muslim faith”.
On previous occasions, Wilders equated the Quran with Mein Kampf (Adolph Hitler’s manifesto) and called for both books to be banned and suggested that the 1 million Muslims living in the Netherlands renounce aspects of their faith or leave the country.
Writing on his blog, Wilders said “The film will be released. Soon you will be able to see with your own eyes why the Koran is such a terrible book and why it is necessary to fight hard against Islamization.”
Unsurprisingly, the Film has struck on a raw nerve in the Islamic world and throughout Europe’s 22 million Muslims who see the consistent provocations made about Shariah Law, the sanctity of Prophet Muhammad and the Quran as systematic attempts of “Islamophobic” attacks on their religion.
Despite the contentious nature of the Dutch MP’s aspirations to broadcast the 15-minute documentary on TV and over the Internet, it would be naïve to look at this situation in isolation. Similar remarks, speeches and campaigns, have found huge audiences throughout Europe in recent years justified in the name of fighting the War on Terror and combating extremism.
French interior minister and presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy defended a weekly Newspaper for printing the Danish cartoons and said he would prefer “too many caricatures to an absence of caricature”.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party was accused of stirring up hostility when stating that the country’s 3.2 million Muslim immigrants “must accept German culture”.
In Austria, far right leader Jörg Haider called for a ban of building a mosque in his province of Carinthia stating that the town “will be a pioneer in the battle against radical Islam for the protection of our dominant western culture.”
In Italy, the mayors of Bologna and Genoa last month delayed planning permission for mosques with one of the leaders, threatening to take pigs to “defile” the site of the proposed mosque in Bologna.
In Britain, draconian laws, stop and searches, spying on students, banning non-violent groups, comments on Niqab by politicians, silencing debate on Foreign Policy, all have targeted Muslims specifically.
Europe’s attempts to force a set of values on the Muslim community dubbed as “Universal” or “Global” values that all peoples should subscribe to have not sat well at all. Flemming Rose, Jyllands-Posten’s culture editor commented on this when he stated:
“The modern, secular society is rejected by some Muslims. They demand a special position, insisting on special consideration of their own religious feelings. It is incompatible with contemporary democracy and freedom of speech, where you must be ready to put up with insults, mockery and ridicule. In Denmark we criticise everything… Muslims have to accept that”
If the road to Integration and cohesion is built on ridicule and contempt with a “if you don’t like it, then get out” attitude, it doesn’t make it surprising to see why a particular set of people feel disenchanted with Western culture and what it has to offer both domestically as citizens of a state and internationally in the shape of the War on Terror which heavily focuses on the Muslim world.
In light of this one has to question what exactly will the release of the film “Fitna” achieve. Will it be dialogue or legalised abuse and ridicule of a set of people?