Thursday, April 3, 2008

Responding to Geert Wilders

By Mona Eltahawy ***


NEW YORK — As soon as I heard that right wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders' anti-Islam film had been uploaded onto an internet site, I did what any self-respecting Muslim would do: I clicked on the link and prepared to be offended. 


Talk about anti-climax! What happened, Geert? Like a magpie stringing cheap trinkets together, "Fitna" is a cut-and-paste affair. It tries to pass itself off as precious insight. It isn't.


It's not breaking news that Muslim radicals have abused the Quran to justify their violence. Just like Wilders, they cherry-pick their verses from the Muslim holy book to make their bloody point.


Most of us Muslims have long urged that we leave behind these verses referring to a very different time and place — just as most Christians and Jews have moved on from verses in their holy texts that extremists still use to justify violence, slavery, and misogyny. 


Wilders has the right to make whatever film he wants. I defend his freedom of speech. It protects my freedom too. I would much rather err on the side of freedom than on the side of restraint, as Islamic countries recently did at the U.N. Human Rights Council. 


At the urging of Egypt and Pakistan — hardly bastions of freedoms of any kind — the council adopted a measure that added monitoring religious prejudice to the duties of a U.N. free speech expert. Now, as well as reporting on repressive governments' restriction of free speech, the U.N. investigator will report acts of "racial or religious discrimination" that constitute "abuse of the right of freedom of expression."


Continued at: A Responsible Response to Geert Wilders


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