March 25, 2008
Czech Party Offers to Show Anti-Islam Film
The Web site for an anti-Koran film being made by Dutch right-wing lawkmaker Geert Wilders was suspended by its US hosting service over the weekend. But a far-right party in the Czech Republic has offered to screen it if Wilders can’t find another outlet.
A far-right political party in the Czech Republic has offered to show a Dutch lawmaker’s anti-Koran film if it is banned in the Netherlands.
The offer came after a US Internet hosting service suspended the Web site promoting “Fitna,” the 15-minute film far-right politician Geert Wilders says he is making, on Saturday.
In the Netherlands, where Wilders leads the reactionary Freedom Party, the film has sparked demonstrations even before its release. Thousands demonstrated in central Amsterdam against the film on Saturday in a protest intended to show that Wilders does not represent the whole country.
The American Internet company, Network Solutions, released a statement Saturday saying it had suspended the promotional Web site until its sponsor could show that plans for the site did not violate the company’s standards.
“Over the last month, Network Solutions received a number of complaints,” read the statement. “We are still waiting to hear from our customer. In the interim, we have temporarily suspended the site.”
Prominent Dutch author Leon de Winter called the company’s decision censorship. “We don’t have any idea what Wilders says, what happens in the film — and yet the Web site was disabled,” said de Winter in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE.
Margalith Kleijwegt, another well-known Dutch author, was less charitable to Wilders. “We are all a little tired of Geert Wilders,” she told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
The site formerly showed the film’s title, “Fitna,” the text “coming soon” and an image of a gilded Koran. Now it shows a note that the site is under investigation.
The Czech Republic’s small National Party offered to release the film on the Internet using one of its servers, in a message posted Sunday on its Web site.
The exact contents of the movie, due to be released by March 31, are unknown to all but Wilders and his producers, but the lawmaker has said it will underscore his view that Islam’s holy book is “fascist.” He announced plans to release the movie on the Internet after television stations refused to air it.
Wilders has lived under police protection since 2004, when Dutch film director Theo van Gogh was murdered by a radical Islamist in retribution for his film “Submission,” which was also critical of Islam. The script was written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee and outspoken critic of Islam who then held a seat in the Dutch parliament.
To Dutch terror expert Edwin Bakker, the cost of protecting Wilders has been too high.
“Geert Wilders has cost us millions. Security details and both domestic and foreign government agencies are preoccupied with trying to estimate the potential damage,” said Bakker to SPIEGEL ONLINE.
A Dutch court will hear a complaint lodged by Muslim groups seeking to bar Wilders from releasing the film on March 28, but there is no legal barrier preventing Wilders from releasing his film before then. It is not clear whether YouTube or other video sharing sites would be willing to host the movie.
Last month, YouTube was inaccessible globally for several hours after the government of Pakistan blocked it, citing what it said were offensive clips in which Wilders made denigrating remarks about Islam.
On Saturday, Wilders responded to news that his Web site had been suspended with threats to distribute copies of the film on DVDs on the Dam, Amsterdam’s central square.
“How many ways are there left for me to be worked against?” he was quoted as saying Saturday night by Dutch press agency ANP. “If necessary I’ll go hand out DVDs personally on the Dam.”