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Saturday, February 14, 2009
The problems with Fitna

Several people have asked me to comment on Geerst Wilders's film Fitna, and the British refusal to allow his attendance at a private screening in the House of Lords. Before I do that, I'd like to say a bit about the position I come from. Firstly, I regard all religions as silly: I object to the way in which most religions are dogmatic about the 'truth' of their faith, in the face of lack of evidence. Secondly, I object to the way in which all religions are afforded an unjustified reverence in modern society. And thirdly, I think that, in addition to being silly, some are quite nasty. These views illuminate my position on Wilders's film.

I have had some experience of Mohammedanism, the religion criticised in Fitna. I was in New York, just a few doors away from Salman Rushdie's publishers, Viking Penguin, when the demonstrations about The Satanic Verses started. As soon as I had the opportunity, I went out and remonstrated with the demonstrators. There was no doubt in my mind about their bloodthirstiness. Later, I tried to attend public readings of the book by prominent Americans, but the crowds in support were too great.

I have to say that I think the US's reaction to the Rushdie affair was rather better than that in the UK: John le Carré's comments, for example, were totally pusillanimous. The general reaction among the British establishment seemed to be encapsulated in an unexpressed hope that either the Mohammedan aggressiveness, or Rushdie himself – or both - would simply go away. This reaction was mistaken. Something much stronger was required.

Over the years, Europe has absorbed large numbers of Mohammedans. Children born here have been indoctrinated and the ever-expanding population now causes growing difficulties for administrations. Governments have either modified laws (e.g. introducing religious protectionism in the UK), or ignored them (e.g. in failing to deal firmly with polygamy, honour killings, and female genital mutilation, again in the UK), in the interests of 'multiculturalism'. The problems implicit, for the essentially liberal West, in Mohammedanism, have been ignored for too long. As a consequence, the difficulty is all the greater now.

Given the cowardice of the main political parties, it now falls to the extremists, such as the British National Party, or 'phobes' such as the UK Independence Party, to speak antagonistically about Mohammedanism. The film Fitna, which I have seen, comes from a Dutch director who appears to have extreme views. However, I think he makes a valid point: Mohammedanism is indubitably a nasty religion; there is no getting away from it.

Fitna is not an artistic masterpiece, but Wilders is rightly critical of the Koran. I have read it and I find much of it distasteful. It may have been a sensible social manual for desert groups more than a thousand years ago but it isn't relevant in the 21st century. An easy example, beside those given by Wilders on violence, is to be found in Sura 4: it is derogatory about women, regarding them as an inferior species. This only goes to confirm the view, gleaned by listening to the experiences of women in 'newly liberated' countries like Iraq, that Mohammedanism is a male-power thing. For that alone, it must be considered nasty: the overthrow of Saddam put the plight of Iraqi women back seventy years.

It is a pity that Wilders has been prevented from appearing in the UK. I think his visit could have done a lot of good. Our politicians are frightened of opposing this nasty group; when Mohammedans like Iqbal Sacranie, who advocated Rushdie's death - "Death, perhaps, is a bit too easy for him…" – and who is highly critical of homosexuality, find themselves ennobled, it's obvious that we've gone wrong somewhere.

Fitna is rightly critical of Mohammedanism; it is a nasty religion. We shouldn't be shooting the messenger, especially when he's a Netherlands MP, even if we do not agree with him wholeheartedly.

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