Thursday, 12 February 2009

Geert Wilders’ Ban

Banning Heer Wilders from entering the UK and showing his film at the House of Lords is more likely to exacerbate polarisation and lead to conflict than avoid it. I do not agree with him on many things but I do agree that it is a cowardly move.
I showed his film by invitation inside a mosque here in a muslim majority country to both young and old people. The film had, of course, been banned here but there was tremendous interest in seeing it. We discussed in detail the verses quoted in the film and whether they were accurate, properly translated, complete and in context. The film was actually used as a vehicle for quranic study.
Everyone was shocked at the images and agreed that the views expressed by the violent fanatics did actually represent what some people thought and did, in particular the persecution of dissent which many had experienced first hand.
The film was inaccurate and in many ways misleading, in particular there appeared to be uncomfortable parallels with the Goebbels sponsored film, Der Ewige Jude, in the closing sequences.
Young people here were fascinated by the film as soon as it came into the press and especially since its banning. But we showed it in a mosque and had an intelligent discussion about it – even at some risk from the authorities. Surely the venerable and crusty peers could have the chance to do the same in the secure and privileged chambers of the Palace of Westminster? I'm sure Lord Ahmad would be able to explain the Quranic verses in context if called upon.
We are coming up to the twentieth anniversary of the Satanic Verses valentine's day fatwa, before that, Spycatcher and before that Lady Chatterley. Haven't we learnt anything about the effects of bans? Do we really want to drive people into the ranks of the BNP on the one hand and Hizbut-Tahrir on the other?
Rafiq Mahmood
, Indonesia