I was shocked to read the following press release today: “January 22, 2009 – Washington, DC and Copenhagen, Denmark: A Dutch court yesterday ordered the criminal prosecution of Geert Wilders, Dutch parliamentarian and leader of the Freedom Party (PVV), for his statements – written, spoken and filmed -regarding Islam. The Amsterdam Court of Appeals has deemed such statements “insulting,” declaring that they ‘substantially harm the religious esteem’ of Muslims.”
Brooke Goldstein and Aaron Meyer have written a riveting special report on this action entitled, “Death to Free Speech in the Netherlands.” This Dutch appellate court has completely reversed itself in its order to prosecute Geert Wilders and the effect is chilling for free speech.
Wilder’s film’s narrative is primarily comprised of quotes from the Koran which incite violence and death to “infidels” as well as scenes of an Imam preaching death to Jews. If this film, “Fitna,” which merely quotes the Koran and depicts angry Imams, is “hate speech,” then what is the Koran itself? What of the Imams who routinely spout hate speech from the pulpit and who are instigating the suits which have turned the Dutch court around? In fact, Jordon is now asking for Wilder’s extradition to stand trial in Jordan for blasphemy of Islam, a crime for which Shari’a law declares the penalty to be death.
If this action progresses, damage will be done to free speech world-wide. Here is a basic principle of human rights that must be upheld if a people is to have a free and fair democracy, no matter who they are or where they are. For us, in our country, and around the world, this is worth fighting for.
I commend to you the last stanza of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”:
Our fathers’ God, to Thee, Author of liberty, to Thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright, with freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might, great God, our King.
Not bad…not bad! And needed.