Summary of Geert Wilders’ anti-Qur’an film Fitna (SPOILER ALERT)
This review will largely be a summary of the film. I will make some appraisals, but because I am by no means an expert on the Qur’an or the domestic and international relations history of the Islamic world, I do not feel sufficiently informed to make a great deal of value judgments. Picture of Geert Wilders, left.
Beginning at the most superficial level: the general presentation. While not a film connoisseur, I thought the production was very well done. Set to generally low-key music with tempo and tone varying from calm to piercingly eerie and/or suspenseful, the film took the form of a reading of the Qur’an, though with obvious critical insertions.
Fitna opens with a view of a closed Qur’an, which when opened reveals a bland version of Kurt Westergaard’s turban bomb Mohammed on one page, and a ticking clock counting down from 15 minutes (the length of the film) on the opposite page. The film proceeds in the form of a casual thumbing through a few select pages of the Qur’an. A page is flipped, a few quotes encouraging terrorism and violence toward non-Muslims are presented, numerous video demonstrations of Muslim’s mirroring if not directly obeying the anti-infidel sentiments are shown, and then the page is flipped again and the process is repeated.
Video footage throughout the film includes the World Trade Center attacks, the Madrid train bombing, images of the maimed and dead of various terrorist attacks, the beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl, Muslims celebrating the killing of Theo van Gogh and warning non-Islamic Europeans that they should learn from van Gogh’s fate (read: van Gogh acted against Islam and was stabbed to death; anybody else want some?), Mohammed B—one of van Gogh’s killers—saying that he would do it again if he had the opportunity, Islamic leaders inciting extreme violence toward non-Muslims (e.g., Jews) often to the cheers of large and raucous crowds of fervent Muslims, a 3.5 year old Islamic child saying that Jews are apes and pigs because Allah says so in the Qur’an, anti-semitic signs reading “God Bless Hitler” and “Be prepared for the REAL Holocaust”, Muslim soldiers giving the Nazi salute, a Muslim saying that if a Muslim converts to Christianity he deserves to be killed, references to the death threats made to Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and many other Islamic leaders and publications predicting that Islam will come to rule the world, editorial column claiming that the Mosque will one day be a part of the Dutch system of governance, citation of the radical rise of the Dutch and European Islamic populations–there are now approximately 1 million Muslims in the Netherlands (compared to 54 in 1909) and 54 million in all of Europe, Muslims denouncing freedom of speech and democracy in favour of the rule of Islam, Al Qaeda calling for the death penalty for Wilders, citation of an Imam’s legalization of anti-gay violence, violence toward gays and women (e.g., genital mutilation, honour killing), and a number of other unsettling statistics and proclamations by Islamic citizens and leaders.
In the last major section of the film, a bleak picture of a potential future of the Netherlands is painted, as Wilders shares his ponderings of what the Netherlands could look like if Dutch Islamists extend their power. Before the close of the film, the reader’s hand grasps a page of the Qur’an, the screen goes black, and the sound of a page being torn is heard. Subsequent text informs the viewer that the pages being torn out were from a phone book. Wilders writes that it is not up to him, but to the Muslims themselves to remove the hateful verses of the Qur’an. Wilders then proceeds to present a number of subsequent messages: 1) Muslims want accomodation and respect, but they don’t want to accomodate or respect non-Muslims; 2) Islam wants to destroy Western civilization; 3) Just as the Nazis were conquered in 1945 and the Communists in 1989, we need to defeat the Islamic ideology today; 4) Stop Islamisation; and 5) Defend our freedom.
The film closes with the final tics of the clock as the camera zooms in progressively on the wick of the dynamite extending from Mohammed’s turban. At zero the screen goes black, thunder rumbles, and lightening strikes. The Qur’an is then closed.
A few thoughts on the film:
Firstly, again, very nicely done in terms of style and aesthetics.
The content. It’s scary. It is. Because you know that there are millions and millions of Muslims that are being depicted pretty accurately by this film. While not all Muslims are this way, there is a substantial enough minority of them to make them the genuine threat to the West (primarily the US, UK and Israel) that they are. As I mentioned above, I am not an expert of the Qur’an. In fact, I haven’t read a single page of it. A few comments based on some commentary that I have heard regarding the Qur’an. Firstly, the Qur’an was written at a time when Muslims were being attacked by outside forces. Hence, much of the incitement of terrorism and violence toward non-Muslims, I am told, likely resulted from the conflicts of the times. Secondly, I have been told that Islam has had a number of bad run-ins with external secular societies in its history. Whereas for us liberal secular democracy is a force for freedom, for them it has often meant oppression from the outside. Thus, many have argued that Islamic antipathy toward secularism is actually pretty understandable, given what secularism has meant for them and their ancestors. Thirdly, I have been told that the Qur’an does not warrant violence toward non-Muslims who do not provoke it themselves; the Qur’an, I am told, says that non-Muslims are to be left alone so long as they leave Muslims alone. Finally, I am also told that the Qur’an is far less oppressive to women than are modern Islamic cultures. These last two comments, I suspect, will be the ones that receive the most disagreement from commenters.
That wraps up my review. When it comes to Western-Islamic relations, it seems clear that a number of social variables are complexly interwined. I’m talking about different religious, moral and cultural values, a general us/them mentality on both sides of the fence, political and economic grievances, and so on. I suspect that many of these differences are based on a bedrock formed by an us/them mentality that may very well have had its roots in religious, linguistic, moral, racial, and cultural differences which emerged from early tribalism dating back many many hundreds of years.