Friday, February 13, 2009

'Fitna' maker Geert Wilders banned from UK

'Fitna' maker Geert Wilders banned from UK

Dutch filmmaker Geert Wilders, whose film "Fitna" warns that Islam is threatening Western civilization, now has been banned from the United Kingdom.

Wilders had been invited to Britain for a special private screening of "Fitna" for Parliament in what already has been a controversial event because of challenges to his right to show the film.

"Fitna" features Quranic verses shown alongside images of the 9/11 terror attacks, the 2004 attacks in Madrid and the 2005 attacks in London.

The film calls on Muslims to remove "hate-preaching" verses from the text of their holy book.

Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, has been living under 24-hour protection from police since 2004. All-Qaida has called for his murder.

According to a report on his website, Wilders was told today in a letter from the British embassy he would not be allowed to enter the UK.

"Great Britain is sacrificing freedom of speech," Wilders said. "You would expect something like this to happen in countries like Saudi Arabia, but not in Great Britain. This cowardly act by the British government is a disgrace. I was invited by a British member of parliament."

In fact, the Dutch parliamentarian had an invitation from the House of Lords to show his movie and participate in a debate about freedom of speech.

"I am seriously considering traveling to Great Britain anyway," he warned.

Wilders' 17-minute documentary, "Fitna," meaning "strife," likened the Quran to Adolf Hitler's manifesto, "Mein Kampf."

Judicial authorities in Amsterdam recently confirmed they planned to prosecute him for the film, stating, "In a democratic system, hate speech is considered so serious that it is in the general interest to ... draw a clear line."

Published reports say the private screening has been scheduled for tomorrow, despite threats of demonstrations issued by Muslim community leaders.

According to Radio Netherlands, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen already has contacted his UK counterpart, David Miliband, by telephone and expressed concern.

"The fact that a Dutch parliamentarian is refused entry to another EU country is highly regrettable," Verhagen said.

"Fitna," among other things, features archive footage of speeches from Muslim clerics, including one who demanded the "beheading" of all Jews.

Wilders released his film one year ago as Dutch leaders feared a reaction akin to the violence that followed the publication in Denmark of cartoons depicting Islam's prophet, Muhammad.

Wilders has received numerous death threats. His police protection has been in place because of the 2004 murder of Theo Van Gogh, the director of a film that exposed violence against women in Islamic societies.

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