A controversial (apparently) Dutch parliamentarian, Geert Wilders, has recently released a short film, Fitna, which has been interpreted as a warning against the Islamisation of Europe - and is, on any interpretation, an attack on the content of the Koran.
I've delayed commenting until I found some time to watch Fitna. I've now seen it.
First, I admit that I know nothing about this Geert Wilders guy, since I don't follow Dutch politics much. I've seen many claims that he is driven by a racist agenda. There is also much talk about his having made an attempt to ban the Koran in the Netherlands, which would seem hypocritical for someone who depends on freedom of speech to be able to express his own controversial viewpoint.
It doesn't matter. Perhaps he is a racist and a hypocrite. Perhaps, for all I know, he has sex with his pet parrot every night. Whether or not that's true, I see nothing in the movie that should be condemned by liberal people (whether or not they actually agree with it, which is a different issue).
The message is presented powerfully, but solemnly, through juxtapositions of passages from the Koran with footage of atrocities and Islamist rantings. The tone is not inflammatory; it doesn't arouse hatred or passion. It leaves the viewer feeling troubled - yet calm and reflective.
As I interpret the film (and like all texts it is open to interpretation), the message is quite simple:
The Koran contains material that can incite hatred of non-Muslims and violence against them. It is up to Muslims to tear those parts from their holy book. This could just mean ignoring the hateful passages, as most Christians, to their credit, ignore the most atrocious passages in the Bible.
That's a perfectly reasonable view to express, whether or not the relevant passages can be explained away by moderate Muslim scholars.
I don't care how sore that poor parrot is getting by now. I don't care if turns out that Wilders made his fortune by clubbing baby seals to death with a large-text edition of Mein Kampf that he bought from David Irving, back in the day, during a six-week orgy of Nazism, Frauleins, and booze in the Austrian Alps.
It doesn't matter. His freedom of speech should still be protected, and I see plenty of attacks on it.
What we must do, as loudly as we can, is object to politically-correct, or just plain cowardly, Western leaders who want to denounce or even suppress what Wilders has to say. Wilders may be Satan himself, but he has every right to express his views.