A few months ago we announced that Dutch politician Geert Wilders was preparing an anti-Islamic film that would "add fuel to the fire". Yesterday, the long awaited video made its debut online. We ask our Observers what effects it might have in their countries, from Holland to Pakistan. After all the fuss, maybe not that much.
The film was supposed to be released on a specially created website, but the American company Network Solutions, which manages domain names worldwide, refused to allow Wilders to use Fitnathemovie.com. So the rightwing party leader decided to use the viral method instead. The film was released at 7pm last night on several internet platforms. "Non-censored" video sharing site LiveLeak was the first to host it, followed by Google Video. Rightwing blogs then posted the URLs so that people could find it. Wilders knew to use peer to peer networks (Kazaa, eMule etc) so that the video was soon all over the Internet in various formats. His was a clever move, as such networks are notoriously difficult to censor. In just three hours, the film had been watched more than a million times on LiveLeak alone, and three million by the following afternoon, which probably makes it one of the fastest selling videos on the net.
Umar Mirza is in charge of a public Muslim blog in the Netherlands:
Wilders always shows the same teachings of radical imams in Holland. But they only represent a minority. For my part, I'm a Dutch Muslim. I like this country as it is and I hope Wilders will not be successful in dividing it."
Carl Konigel, our Observer in Amsterdam:
This film is nothing extraordinary and it's even flawed. For example; the shots of Van Gogh's killer Mohammed Bouyeri that are shown are actually pictures of a Dutch rapper dressed up. The photos look alike; the filmmakers must have made a mistake. The rapper has said that he will take Wilders to court over the issue.
In the end, I don't think this film will provoke anything big in Holland. Wilders is untouchable. Nobody knows where he is and he'll stay in his bunker for the mean time. But everything could change if people in Muslim countries take it out on the Dutch embassies like they did over the cartoon affair."
Zaheer Kidvai is our Observer in Karachi, Pakistan:
Ahmed Gamal Eldin is one of our Observers in Cairo, Egypt:
The film is totally shocking. Not just for Muslim people; for anyone. I'm more worried about the implications it will have in the west. This will actually trigger more anger in occidental countries against Muslims than anger in Muslim countries. "