NETHERLANDS

Fitna is just a really bad film

  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 reaction it might provoke in their countries, from Holland to Pakistan. After all the fuss, maybe not that much.

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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.

"I really expected something worse "

Umar Mirza is in charge of a public Muslim blog in the Netherlands:

I can't believe now how over excited everyone got about the film before it was released. I saw the film last night and it's rubbish. It's nothing new either; just a collection of videos found on YouTube with the usual Wilders comments. I really expected something worse. Dutch Muslims are used to this kind of provocation, and we decided well before it came out that we would not react. The Muslim community has moved on since the Van Gogh years. We've learnt how not to respond to this type of provocation.

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."

"Everything could change if people in Muslim countries take it out on the Dutch embassies"

Carl Konigel, our Observer in Amsterdam:

I don't think Wilders' film will start any demonstrations or riots in Holland. It's just not that controversial. He's taken archived images that we've already seen. Even his supporters seem disappointed, because the film doesn't bring anything in comparison with the anti-Islam films that are already on the net. Maybe they were hoping for a film that just attacked normal Muslims; not al Qaeda supporters or Imams. A bit like the Nazi film "The Eternal Jew", released in the early 1940s, that stigmatised Jews as the underclass. In fact, Wilders was quite cautious. He showed the most controversial of the Danish cartoons, the one with the prophet with a bomb in his turban. But even though the fuse is lit, the bomb doesn't go off. Wilders in fact explained to the media that the sound at the end of the film is thunder and not an explosion. And the sound of the pages being torn was apparently not done with a copy of the Koran but just the sound of a page torn out of a phone book.

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."

"What will happen to white people who live in Muslim countries?"

Zaheer Kidvai is our Observer in Karachi, Pakistan:

The first thing that I have to say is that I can't believe he dares to call this a film! It's nothing more than a PowerPoint presentation. So far I've heard nothing in Pakistan. But I'm sure by the evening things will start happening. Of course there'll be a violent backlash because it's irresponsibly childish and childish people will react to it. The director might be protected but what of all the white people who live in Muslim countries? Some might be slapped or punched, but one of them might get killed. I expect Dutch products will be banned as Danish ones have been. There'll certainly be protests here. But I hope there'll also be protests from filmmakers for making such a bad film!"

"The film is totally shocking"

Ahmed Gamal Eldin is one of our Observers in Cairo, Egypt:

The problem with the film is that it's specifically targeting the Koran. The attack is not only against the prophet Mohammed but this time, the whole concept of the religion. The montage of the images of the Koran and maimed bodies is just too direct. It's absolutely not true that Islam encourages terrorism and neither that it was behind 9/11. The war is between armies, not religions.

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. "