Monday, 25 February 2008

Geert Wilders

Asalaamu alaikum
I heard on the BBC that Pakistan, Turkey and Thailand have banned U-Tube for showing this man promoting his forthcoming film. I first heard about the film from reports in the Jakarta Post saying that protests last week at the Danish Embassy went along to the Dutch Embassy afterwards because of his film.
Now, like most people, if you hear that something is going to be banned my curiosity was aroused. Fortunately at the moment the internet in Indonesia does not seem to be overtly censored and I certainly don't want it want it to be. I checked out U-Tube and saw a couple of extracts from interviews with Geert Wilders saying how he believes the Qur’an is a fascist book and that European cultural norms are superior to those of Islam but that it is not his intention to offend anybody but just to open their eyes.
Now I was not offended by the original 12 Danish cartoons – and not by the one reproduced recently with the bomb in the turban. There is a valid message there about bigotry, stupidity and cruelty in the Muslim World today. I also would not be offended by someone reading out passages from the Qur’an and interspersing them with images of flag burning, Taliban executions and women covered from head to toe. That would be a starting point for discourse and argument and perfectly acceptable even if we disagreed with the interpretation.

Monday 25 February 2008

Wa alaikum asalaam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu!
I suspect that he has latched onto a mechanism for getting and keeping a job for which he was entirely unqualified by any rational standards. He has obtained and maintains his job as an MP by using exactly those means which he criticises Islam for: the tactics of appealing to prejudice and unreasoned xenophobia and provoking antagonism: purely fascist in a real sense. He seems to demonstrate the same mental character as the BNP, Mosley, Hitler and Mussolini who all have a ‘reasonable democratic face’ to win votes and then when they would obtain power take over and crush the democratic process by which they arose. It is correct to say that in the so-called Muslim world governments under the control or influence of religious fascists employ exactly the same tactics. But you do not criticise by adopting the same methods. Wilder and the ‘new right’ in Europe are dangerous. I was wrong in my earlier email in saying he should not be taken seriously. He might be deranged, but he does have influence. He does need to be exposed, but calmly and rationally.
I remember going to a Mormon meeting in Edinburgh once and saw one of them put their own book (the Mormons have their own sacred text which they claim was revealed to their founder) on the floor. Even though I do not for a moment consider this to be truly a revealed text I felt hurt that they should treat it with apparent disregard and advised them to be more careful. I even remember telling my mother not to leave the Bible on the staircase.
What was worrying is that the two interviews I saw on U-Tube were by Fox News and Russian Television: both of whom hardly have a reputation for truth and unbiased comment. I fear the unintended consequences. The Muslim world making ever more attempts at suppressing channels of communication, demonstrations and violence and the right wing lunatics in the west attracting more and more followers with more personal surveillance and control and increasing polarisation. There is a bomb under the flat cap as well as under the turban. We must not let reason be destroyed. We must pray more but also speak out for reason. The terrible conflicts of the middle of the last century seem almost inevitably about to be repeated but on such an awesome scale and magnitude that can scarcely be imagined.
Gog and Magog have changed their identities. At first it seemed they were the remnants of the Great Schism of the Roman Empire; the Roman and Orthodox wings of the Church; the ‘Great Game’ between the British and the Russian Empires and then the struggle between the US and Soviet Empires. It is possible that they may take on the mantles of West (in the shape of right wing neo-fascism) and Islam (in the shape of mullah-fascism) although the simmering rivalries between the West and Russia seem to be flaring up again.
These are indeed dangerous times.