UPDATE: Had to snag this Indonesian snapshot from Jihadwatch tonight. "Death threats for saying Islam isn't a Religion of Peace."
Not quite two weeks after Geert Wilders' Fitna first appeared on the Internet, an overall pattern of response has emerged: both supremacist Islam and the multicultural Left are united in using feelings of "offense" over the film to advance speech codes that replace Western-style freedom of speech with Islamic curbs on criticizing Islam. This is well underway at the UN. It is also well underway in the bureaucracies of the European Union, where, for example, a Belgian government antidiscrimination body has "warned" Belgian bloggers not to link to Fitna. Brrrr. (That's the sound of Belgium's chilling effect.)
While we have seen street mobs calling for Wilders to be killed in Pakistan (where 25,000 took to the Karachi streets on Sunday, trashing movie theatres showing Indian films while they were at it) and Indonesia, most of the action against the film--against freedom of speech--seems to be concentrated in government conference rooms, not urban streets. Even boycotts--while called for by the government of Iran and a popular Egyptian TV show, for example--are not being organized across the Islamic world as they were over the Danish Motoons.
Why? Radio Netherlands reports on one Islamic group's rationale against the more obvious manifestations of Islamic Rage:
Editorial staff at Islam Online, one of the most influential [DW: and jihadist-friendly] Muslim websites, say the position adopted by the Dutch government in regards to the film deserves to be applauded. They point out that the stance taken by The Hague was very different from that taken by the Danish government during the crisis surrounding the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
In other words, the Islamic world got what it wanted this time around without having to forgo even one morsel of Dutch Gouda. Furthermore, it seems that pillage and murder are just plain bad PR:
One Islam Online editor writes: "A campaign to boycott Dutch products confirms the allegation that Muslims respond irrationally."
Besides, boycotts aren't always effective:
Critics also say Muslims must be realistic about the effects of such a campaign. "There's no way of controlling a boycott, which means it's less effective. Anyway, there's too little trade between the Netherlands and Islamic countries for it to be of any real impact. Dutch products are too expensive for most Muslims; they prefer cheaper goods from China and other parts of Asia."
The report goes to quote someone or other pointing that penalizing The Netherlands is pointless anyaway because the United States is "the worst abuser..."
Another report, this one originating in the Jakarta Post, opens the door on the boardroom squeeze tactics that seem to be the preferred Islamic world m.o. this time.
Indonesian Muslim leaders and foreign envoys have demanded the Netherlands take legal action against Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, for producing and distributing the anti-Islam film, Fitna.
In a meeting on Monday with the Dutch ambassador to Indonesia, Nikolaos van Dam, the leaders said his government's statement condemning the film was not enough to dampen the anger of Muslim countries over the movie.
The meeting was held at the headquarters of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second largest Islamic group, as a Dutch court ruled on Monday that Wilders was allowed to make anti-Islamic comments.
Hallelujah!!! (More on that below.)
"The Dutch government must criminalise Wilders' conduct. Freedom of expression has a limit," the people's consultative assembly chairman Hidayat Nur Wahid told the meeting.
He said Wilders could not hide behind freedom of expression, and insulting Muslims and causing unrest among them in the Netherlands and other countries were sufficient reasons for the Dutch government to prosecute him.
"We are still waiting to see what punishment the Dutch government will give Wilders, because the film has clearly insulted and disgraced Islam," Indonesian Ulema Council deputy chairman Amidan said.
In other words, court ruling, schmourt ruling.
Foreign ambassadors Mohamed E. Taha of Egypt, Aydin Evirgen of Turkey and Abdulrahman Mohammed Amen Al-Khayyat of Saudi Arabia, and several diplomats from other Muslim countries, also attended the meeting.
Taha supported the argument that there was no such thing as "absolute freedom of expression" where people could freely insult others.
He urged the Dutch government to be tough on Wilders.
Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said he hoped van Dam would convey the Muslim leaders' messages to his government.
"Such a film encourages the clash of civilisations between Islam and the West," he said.
While expressing his government's regret over the release of the film, van Dam said Dutch prosecutors were looking into the case for ways to hold Wilders responsible and bring him to justice.
"We have no censorship in the Netherlands. That's why we can't ban the film. But we agree the freedom of expression has limits insofar as not hurting others' feelings," [the Dutchman] told the Muslim leaders.
All the Muslim leaders and envoys agreed the Dutch government must find a way to prevent similar films and other forms of expression from being released to the public.
"This is not the first film (to hurt Muslims), so the Dutch government must have regulations to prevent similar movies from circulating," said Hamamah from Aisyiah, the women's arm of Muhammadiyah.
In other words, better not happen again.
But about that Dutch court ruling that ruled in favor of Wilders' freedom of speech: This is the best Fitna news in two weeks. Here's the report from NISNews Bulletin:
MP Geert Wilders does not incite to hatred or violence against Muslims. His comparison of Islam with Fascism is permissible, a district court in The Hague ruled yesterday.
The Netherlands Islamic Federation (NIF) had put forward a number of statements by the Party for Freedom (PVV) leader in a summary injunction. The NIF considered that Wilders had broken the law by comparing Islam with Fascism, calling the Koran the Islamic version of Hitler's Mein Kampf and the Prophet Mohammed a barbarian. All remarks are legal, the court decided yesterday.
The foundation demanded that Wilders take back his statements. But the court said: "A parliamentarian must be able to put forward his views." And "the right of freedom of speech is decisive here."
Three cheers for the Dutch court!
Wilders does not have to make a correction. This would according to the court be the same as a forced apology and therefore at odds with the principle of freedom of speech. "Regret cannot be forced with a verdict," according to the ruling.
According to the court, Fascism must be viewed more broadly than the NIF does. The federation of Turkish Muslims associates the term with "malignancies of Nazi Germany" such as the Holocaust. But the court said Fascism is a "collective term for ideologies with principles that embrace a totalitarian political system that leaves no room for dissenters."
NIF did not disprove that ideas are prevalent in Islam that are at odds with democratic principles. The group also did not succeed, according to the judge, in refuting Wilders' view of Mohammed being a barbarian.
Chalk one up for our side (finally).