A Muslim delegation of Sunni and Shiâ€™a Imams and other Muslim community leaders from SE Michigan met with Mr. Jack R. Twiss, Political Counselor, Head of Political Section from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Washington, DC. The meeting took place at the Arab American National Museum. Dearborn, Michigan, hosted by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM.)
The Chair of the council, Ghalib Begg, welcomed the CIOM delegate members and the guests and opened the meeting with a brief introduction about the Netherlands. Ghalib Begg then stated the purpose of the meeting. The Embassy contacted the CIOM to meet with the Muslim leaders in the Metro-Detroit area to discuss the movie â€œFitnaâ€ to be released shortly by, Mr. Geert Wilders, an MP, member of parliament of the Netherlands.
Fitna, is the Arabic word for â€œordeal,â€ â€œdiscord,â€ or â€œstrife.â€ Wilders thinks Islam is an ordeal for Western democracies, meaning a difficult or painful experience. He also says he hates Islam. He calls his film a call to shake off the creeping tyranny of Islamization. Geert Wilders had called for a ban on the Qurâ€™an. He describes the Qurâ€™an as a fascist text which exhorts followers to kill and rape, and compares it to Mien Kampf of Adolph Hitler. He also wants to remove the article on nondiscrimination from the Constitution of the Netherlands.
Mr. Twiss, representing the Govt. of Netherlands (Also referred to as Holland) made it clear that Wilder, who happens to be a Dutch Parliamentarian, does not represent the Govt. or represents Netherlands in any way or fashion, except that he is an independent, elected member. A comparison of his position can be made to a Congressman in America vs. the US Govt. He informed us that the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a secular country with a constitution that honors the Freedom of speech and the Freedom of Religion (article 6 of the constitution). With this freedom of expression it makes it difficult to stop people from saying and/or publishing what they want to say or publish, Mr. Twiss said.
He continued, government officials have asked Mr. Wilder to share the film before he releases it for evaluation. If the movie is found violating any laws, then charges can be filed against Mr. Wilders should he be found guilty of blasphemy, slander or insult under the penal code. However, the governments hands are tied because of the freedom of expression law. The constitution makes it difficult to stop the movie before its release. Nevertheless, the Govt. Netherlands is concerned enough to take the initiative to explain their position and is desirous of getting Muslim input to deal with a fallout from the release of this movie.
Mr. Twiss was reminded how Islam took Europe from the dark ages to civilization which Mr. Twiss graciously acknowledged. The Imams shared their views with Mr. Twiss making it clear that it would be very hard to control the masses from resorting to any action that might be unpleasant to the Dutch government and its people, because of the love Muslims have for Allah and His messenger and also because of the emotional attachment Muslims have toward the Word of God. The advice was given to take extraordinary steps and find a way to stop this Islamophobia.
An important point raised, by several imams and Muslim leaders present, that they cannot understand why anti-Semitism is treated differently from Islamophobia. Mr. Wilders response was — since the movie is not yet released, it is hard for him to be answer that question in this particular situation. But, he reiterated that this act of Mr. Wilders, from what has been known so far, is equally opposed by Muslims, Christians and Jews in Netherlands, including the Prime Minister and the Justice Minister.
The meeting was more or less an exchange of views from both sides. Weâ€™ll have to wait and see what happens. The repercussion of releasing â€œFitna,â€ on the positive side, would give the non-Muslims a chance to learn about the Qurâ€™an while on the negative side, violence might erupt resulting perhaps in the loss of lives. Muslim leaders agreed that the Muslims must act maturely and wisely and take this as an opportunity to reach out to non-Muslims and respectfully propagate the message of our sacred book, The Qurâ€™an. We pray that nothing but good come out of it.
CIOM is planning to organize an annual â€˜Islamic Dayâ€™ in Michigan by holding an open house by all the Islamic centers, invite the public and provide information on Islam and Muslims. Governor will be asked to declare that day the â€˜Islam Day.â€™ It was suggested that the open house model developed by the Unity Center should be shared and duplicated in other masajids. Combining an â€˜Open Houseâ€™ statewide, on a single day, will afford us joint advertising and we can take bill boards out to attract larger crowds. Br. Rashid Taufiq, as Chair of CIOM Outreach Committee, will be working on this. This proposal was presented at the last, Jan 26th, Council meeting and was reiterated by the members present, at the meeting. It will be again brought up at the next Council meeting on April, 12th, 10 AM, at the new Qurâ€™an Institute on St. James, in Detroit.
Mr. Jack Twiss quoted a hadith by Prophet Muhammad (s), recited to him by Sh. Hamza Yusuf, which essentially speaks of letting the â€˜Fitnaâ€™ sleep, as much as the Shaitan tries to wake it. This Islamophobic movie has been shown around the Detroit area and nationally for almost 2 years. Therefore, this particular movie should not get any attention or the press.