Thursday, February 19, 2009

Freedom dies as Islam advances

Halfway through “Fitna,” the short film about radical Islam made by Dutch MP Geert Wilders, we see an angry imam, speaking Arabic and telling how it will be.

“We have ruled the world before, and by Allah the day will come when we rule the entire world again!” the translation scrolls, “The day will come when we will rule America! The day will come when we rule Britain and the entire world!”

Score one for the Islamists, where Britain is concerned. The cringing bureaucrats of Gordon Brown’s Labour government barred Wilders from entering the country last week to attend a screening of “Fitna” at, of all places, Britain’s Houses of Parliament.

The 17-minute movie, which has been out for a year and is easily viewed online, seeks to make the case that Islam is dangerously in the ascendant in the Netherlands.

The film is composed almost entirely of scenes where Muslims are doing the talking, but it includes images of terrorist attacks and violent passages from the Quran.

It features clips of radical Islamist preachers calling for the murder of Jews and the defenestration of gays. It shows dead female victims of honor killings, a kneeling woman in a burqa being executed, and a captured Westerner being beheaded by masked Islamic militants.

Now, Wilders didn’t write the Quran, he didn’t bomb the Twin Towers, and where his narrative voice comes in, it’s not even saying anything very extraordinary – not in a world where a lot of people say a lot of things.

With the same material, one suspects that a practiced polemicist like Michael Moore could have made something even more shocking.

But Britain’s first Muslim peer, Lord Ahmed, warned that 10,000 Muslims would march on Parliament if Wilders appeared at the screening.

So the government caved. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith banned the Dutchman for fear his presence “would threaten community security and therefore public security.”

See how easily old freedoms are revoked? You would think that there’s no point in freedom of speech if you can’t use it to say unpopular things.

Yet in Britain – and in the Netherlands, where Wilders faces trial and a jail term for making “Fitna” – that freedom is gone.

Last month a three-judge panel in Amsterdam ruled what Wilders called free speech was in fact “one-sided generalizations [about Islam]…which can amount to inciting hatred.”

So there we have Britain and the Netherlands, taking what you might call a submissive posture with regards to the sensitivities of their Muslim populations.

This submission is exactly what the frothing clerics featured in “Fitna” believe their due; it is, indeed, what the word “Islam” means.

In Pakistan this week, there was a yet more dramatic capitulation: Score two for the Islamists. For the last year and a half, Taliban militants have scourged the Swat Valley, a lush and beautiful region just north of Islamabad that was once full of tourists.

In a brutal campaign to extend the writ of Sharia law, Taliban radicals have burned and bombed dozens of girls’ schools, and kidnapped and beheaded countless local people; last month they murdered a popular dancing girl.

They left her broken corpse in a town square littered with bank notes and CDs of her performances as a warning against what the radicals judged to be immoral entertainments.

Now, in exchange for a 10-day truce, the Pakistani government has agreed to place the surviving one million people of the Swat Valley under…Sharia law.

The Taliban has got its way. Residents are said to be both relieved at the prospect of peace, and terrified at what Sharia may mean for them.

Under the new Islamic dispensation, “a beard will be compulsory for all judicial officers,” the Times of India reported dryly.

And so it goes. Indeed, Sharia seems to have made another grisly visit this past week to our own United States. In upstate New York, a native of Pakistan, Muzzammil Hassan, beheaded his pretty wife Aasiya. A short time before her murder, she had filed for divorce.

Until Islamic law, a wife may request divorce, but only a husband may grant it. Aasiya’s body, when police found it, was lying in the office where she and her husband had founded a TV station dedicated to countering stereotypes of Muslims as being, among other things, often violently opposed to female emancipation.


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