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Fitna ( ) is a 2008 short film by Dutchmarker parliamentarianmarker Geert Wilders. Approximately 17 minutes in length, the film shows selected excerpts from Suras of the Qur'an, interspersed with media clips and newspaper cuttings showing or describing acts of violence and/or hatred by Muslims. The film is intended to demonstrate that the Qur'an motivates its followers to hate all who violate Islamic teachings. Consequently, the film argues, Islam encourages, among other things, acts of terrorism, antisemitism, violence against women and homosexuals, and Islamic universalism. A large part of the film deals with the influence of Islam on the Netherlands.


The Arabic title-word "fitna" means "disagreement and division among people" or a "test of faith in times of trial". Wilders, a prominent critic of Islam, described the film as "a call to shake off the creeping tyranny of Islamization".

On March 27, 2008, Fitna was released to the Internet on the video sharing website Liveleak in Dutch and English versions. The following day, Liveleak removed the film from their servers, citing serious threats to their staff. On March 30, Fitna was restored on Liveleak following a security upgrade, only to be removed again shortly afterwards by Wilders himself because of copyright violations. A second edition was released later.

Production

The Friends of the Party for Freedom (or PVV) foundation commissioned the film. It contracted a production company credited in the film as "Scarlet Pimpernel Productions", a pseudonym adopted out of fear of reprisal. In fact large parts of the documentary Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West written by Wayne Kopping and Raphael Shore were copied.

Release

The exact nature of Fitna's release had been uncertain up until its official launch. This was due to concerns of the legality of its content and anticipated acts of terrorism. The Dutch press centre Nieuwspoort offered to release the film, on the condition that Wilders would pay for the increased security required during the press conference and the weeks after it. Wilders declined to do so, citing prohibitive costs.

Having failed to successfully negotiate a transmission of the film with any Dutch television station, Wilders created a website, www.fitnathemovie.com, on March 5, 2008 with the intention of releasing the film. However, this was subsequently suspended (see below).

On March 22, the Dutch Muslim Broadcasting Association (NMO) offered to air the film, on the proviso that it could be previewed for any possible illegal material and that Wilders would take part in a debate with proponents and opponents afterwards. Wilders declined, quoted as saying "No way, NMO."

Wilders released the film on March 27, 2008 on the video website Liveleak. The following day, Liveleak removed the film from their servers after receiving threats that they described as being "of a very serious nature". The film soon appeared on various BitTorrent and video sharing websites.

Liveleak reinstated Fitna on March 30, after security upgrades offering increased protection to its staff had been implemented. Soon after, Wilders withdrew the film to make some minor edits, such as removing the copyrighted Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons and the photograph of Salah Edin, a rapper wrongly identified as Mohammed Bouyeri, in response to lawsuits. Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist, was pleased with the news and believed the lawsuit would be dropped.

A revised edition, containing a new cartoon in place of the contentious one, and a corrected picture of Bouyeri, was released on Liveleak on April 6.

Ruder Finn distributing the film

On 14 December 2008, a conference entitled "Facing Jihad" was organized at the Begin Center in Jerusalem. Those present included Geert Wilders, Arieh Eldad, Robert Spencer,Itamar Marcus, Daniel Pipes, Shlomo Sharan and John David Lewis. During the conference the film Fitna was shown, it was distributed to all conference participants, and it was announced that the film would be shown in several European parliaments. The Ruder Finn PR company organized the conference and set up the group's website, and are also actively distributing the film. Ruder Finn has been distributing the film for free.

During February 2009, Geert Wilders visited (or planned to visit) several European capitals to present the Fitna. He was barred from entering the UK, but his film was nonetheless shown in the House of Lords. Wilders also presented Fitna in Rome (13 Feb 2009). The press releases to promote the showing in both cases was done by Ruder Finn.

Plot

The film shows a selection of Suras from the Qur'an, interspersed with newspaper clippings and media clips with The Arabian Dance and Åses død as an underscore.

Themes

Wilders said the 15-minute film show how verses from the Qur'an are being used today to incite modern Muslims to behave violently and anti-democratically based on those verses. He later described the film as “a call to shake off the creeping tyranny of Islamization,” and a push for a Leitkultur, a culture that “draws on Christian, Jewish, humanistic traditions and that poses a challenge to the Islamic problem.”

The Qur'an and terrorism

The film starts with a warning to the viewer that the film contains "very shocking images". A caricature of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb on his head is shown next to a timer counting down from 15 minutes.

Suras are juxtaposed to video clips of Imams stating Islamic teaching, and videos of violent atrocities committed in the name of Islam, including major terrorist attacks.

The first Sura of the film, Al-Anfal verse 60 , is translated as: Footage of the September 11 attacks is shown, followed by the Madrid train bombings. An unidentified Imam rises above the smoke and declares "Allah is happy when non-muslims get killed." Stills taken from the 7 July 2005 London bombings show an exploded bus and the underground train.

The next Sura, An-Nisa verse 56 , is shown as a justification for Islamic antisemitism. Sheikh Bakr Al-Samarai is shown raising a sword while declaring: "If Allah permits us, oh nation of Mohammed, even the stone will say Oh Muslim. A Jew is hiding behind me, come and cut off his head. And we shall cut off his head! By Allah, we shall cut it off! Oh Jews! Allahu Akbar! Jihad for the sake of Allah!" An auditorium of several hundred people respond with approving chants and fist shaking.

Following this, a three year old Muslim girl, says that Jews are "apes and pigs" because "Allah" said so "in the Qur'an" in an interview on Iqraa TV. More antisemitism is shown by an unidentified Imam, who says: "The Jews are Jews. They are the ones who must be butchered and killed." Child soldiers are shown holding guns in uniform.

Sura 47, verse 4 is shown in relation to the murder of Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh, committed by Mohammed Bouyeri. Bouyeri is reported as saying: "If I had the opportunity to get out of prison, and I had the opportunity to do it again, what I did on November 2nd, Allah I would have done exactly the same." Protesters are shown supporting Van Gogh's murder, warning others to heed the lesson or "pay with your blood".

Dutch newspaper headlines are reproduced, outlining intimidating threats of murder to prominent critics of Islam, followed by footage of Eugene Armstrong's beheading. Armstrong's disembodied head is shown held up by Al-Qaeda terrorists.

The Qur'an as a means for Islamic universalism



Sura 4, verse 89 is heard, and translated here as: This is shown through a Vox populi: "If someone converts to Christianity, he deserves the death penalty", which refers to the punishment of death for apostasy in Islam. An unidentified Imam declares: "Islam is (more) superior than the Jews, than the Christians, than the Buddhists, than the Hindus. The only (law) Allah accepts is Islam. " A short video clip shows ethnic Albanians attacking a Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovomarker during the 2004 unrest.

Headlines concerning assaults and death threats to former Muslims Ehsan Jami, Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are shown.

The final Sura used in the film is Sura 8, verse 39 :

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iranmarker is quoted as saying:

Ibrahim Mudeiris is seen speaking to a congregation. He says: "We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again! The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we rule Britain and the entire world!" Abdul Rahman Saleem speaks in English: "You will take over the USA! You will take over the UK! You will take over Europe! You will defeat them all! You will get victory! You will take over Egypt! We trust in Allah!" Demonstrators outside the Danish embassy to Britain are shown holding signs that read: "Islam will dominate the world" and "Freedom go to hell".

Islam and the Netherlands



The final segment of the film deals with issues related to Islam in the Netherlands, under the heading: "The Netherlands under the spell of Islam". These issues include opposition to democracy, Islamic views on homosexuality and women's treatment in Islam.

An unidentified person claims that "The mosque will be part of the system of the government of Holland", in an apparent refusal to accept liberal democracy. Wilders juxtaposes a newspaper headline "Cabinet: no ban on burqa" against a Muslim woman fully covered up. A graph illustrating the number of Muslims in Holland since 1909 is shown against a background of Muslim women. Dutch police are shown removing their shoes before entering a mosque. A Dutch Muslim expresses his desire to enact an honour killing, if his mother or sister commits zina, the Islamic concept of extramarital sex. Another condemns homosexuality, saying "Islam considers something like that a crime."

A postcard is shown, ostensibly from Holland, with pictures of mosques in place of visitor attractions, with the words "Groeten uit Nederland" (Greetings from The Netherlands) superimposed.

Audio recordings that are said to have been taken from mosques in Holland show Imams denouncing political parties, "worldly concepts like liberalism [and] democracy." Another states that adulterers must be "stoned" to death. A graphic image of gays being hanged, under Sharia law is a depiction of a possible future dystopian Holland. Children of Shia Muslims are shown with blood covering their faces, having been cut with knives by older people as per the tradition of the Day of Ashura. A series of clips show Female genital cutting, a decapitated woman's head lying on a floor, and a woman dressed in a burqa being shot through the head by a man.

Finally, a succession of newspaper headlines are shown, containing stories related to Islam in the Netherlands, their views, actions, ambitions and politics. Some verified headlines are:
  • "Sudanese demand execution of British 'miss teddy bear'" (see Sudanese teddy bear blasphemy case)
  • "Almost half of young Moroccans anti-western"
  • "Moroccans throw gay in water"
  • "Throw gays from tall buildings"
  • "Al-Qaeda proclaims death penalty Jihad against Wilders"


The film ends with a hand seen gripping a page of the Qur'an and a call to action from Wilders to defeat “Islamic ideology”, likening it to Communism and Nazism.

Suras



The following Suras are mentioned in Fitna in order of appearance:

Sura Title Verse
8 Al-Anfal (The Spoils of War) 60
4 An-Nisa (The Women) 56
47 Muhammad (Muhammad)   4
4 An-Nisa (The Women) 89
8 Al-Anfal (The Spoils of War) 39


Differences between first and second release

The first edition used copyrighted Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons without permission. These were removed from the second edition.

Also in the first edition of the film, and removed from the second edition, when referring to the murder of Theo van Gogh a picture of the Dutch rapper Salah Edin is displayed instead of the murderer Mohammed Bouyeri. The picture was shot for the rapper's album 'Nederlands Grootste Nachtmerrie' (Netherlands' Worst Nightmare), which according to the singer's website, was shot to be 'exactly like the mugshot of convicted killer Mohamed B'. A 2007 article by Dutch newspaper De Dag had captioned an article about the killer with the shot. On that occasion, Salah Edin's received an out-of-court libel settlement for the publication. The photo was said by the rapper to be intended to depict "the way the average white Dutch citizen sees me, as a young Moroccan Muslim radical. That's why I chose to do this picture and use it for the front cover of my album. It is in no way supporting the deeds of Mohamed B". Edin has accepted a settlement of 25,000 for copyright infringement.

Reaction

International reaction to Fitna consisted of condemnation in the Muslim community, a Fatwā by Al-Qaeda against Geert Wilders, and attempts by Southeast Asian countries to censor the film. The Dutch government immediately distanced itself from the film. Several Muslim organizations and political parties have organized boycotts against Dutch products.

Indonesiamarker, the most populous Muslim country, has conducted a ban on several web sites, such as YouTube, MySpace, Rapidshare and Metacafe, as directed by the Ministry of Communications and Informations. On April 11, theIndonesian government lifted the ban. Indonesian communications minister Muhammad Nuh apologised to the public for the inconvenience. Hizbut Tahrir Indonesiamarker spokeperson, Ismail Yusanto said to Nikolas van Dam, the Dutch ambassador for Indonesiamarker that the Dutch government is responsible for the actions of Geert Wilders Fitna (film) and said aslim taslam.

Geert Wilders' film failed to generate much controversy in Iranmarker although the government did express its outrage on the day of its release and conservative websites complained about it for a while. By and large, Fitna elicited indifference among the general public. There was an anti-Fitna demonstration, but just 30 people turned up and they were carrying signs that had nothing to do with the film.

In response to the film on Sunday March, 30 an op-ed by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Verhagen, was printed in the Arabic Newspaper Asharq al Awsat. In the article, he asks of the readers to "keep the head cool and the relations warm". He urges the need of dialogue, instead of provocation, as a means to bridge the differences between cultures.

On April 1, a debate was held about the film in the Dutch parliament. In this debate, the government and Geert Wilders accused each other of lying about facts of their previous communication. According to various members of the government, Wilders had told in previous conversations about his intentions to tear parts out of the Qur'an and setting them on fire. Wilders denied this.

Legal actions

One of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons was included in the film without the permission of the artist, Kurt Westergaard. Westergaard has asserted that this infringes his copyright and is considering taking legal action against Wilders. The Danish Union of Journalists has said it will file a lawsuit on Westergaard's behalf. Similarly Dutch director Rob Muntz announced to file a lawsuit because of the uncredited use of his interview with Theo van Gogh.

Various Dutch people filed an official complaint against the film, after it was released. According to some experts, prosecution was unlikely to succeed, because Wilders took great care to stay within the law.

In January 2009 the Amsterdam appeals court ordered prosecutors to try him for "inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs". "In a democratic system, hate speech is considered so serious that it is in the general interest to... draw a clear line," the court in Amsterdam said. Mr Wilders said the judgement was an "attack on the freedom of expression". Prosecutors said that they could not appeal against the judgement and would open an investigation immediately.

Jordanmarker is preparing a criminal case against Wilders, noting that it might be considerable time before an indictment is issued. Meanwhile, the groups making the complaint (The Messenger of Allah Unites Us) have urged the boycotting of Dutch products, and blame The Haguemarker for not indicting Wilders themselves for inciting hatred of Islam. Less than a month later, the chief prosecutors in Amsterdam issued statements to the effect that Wilders will not be indicted on incitement to hatred charges within the Netherlands. Chief prosecutor Leo De Wit further noted that the content was "offensive to Muslims, but that they had to be taken in the context of the political debate around Islam in the Netherlands". De Wit concluded, "we find Wilders' remarks were limited to Islam as a religious movement". Dutch foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen has ordered an analysis of the risks faced by the MP, noting the possibility that Wilders, while abroad, could be arrested and deported to Jordan at the latter's request.

On 12 February 2009, Wilders was denied entry to the United Kingdommarker after being invited by the Lord Pearson of the United Kingdom Independence Party to show his film in the House of Lordsmarker. He has declared this 'a sad day for the United Kingdom' and accused the UK Government of cowardice. Wilders appealed the ban, and on 13 October 2009 it was overturned by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. The UK Home Office has stated its intention not to appeal the tribunal decision; and Wilders' planned visit to the UK went ahead, with his arriving in the country on 16 October 2009. Wilders described the decision to overturn the ban as a "victory for freedom of speech".

Films made in response

On March 28, a film was released by the Arab European League, named Al Mouftinoun. There was also a call to submit a response film to a special Geert Wilders Film festival. The film Ashkar was declared the winner on May 3, 2008. A Saudimarker blogger made a contra-film in April, named Schism. It was also released on Liveleak.

Sequel

Wilders has stated that he plans to release a sequel to Fitna.

See also



References

External links






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