July 3, 2008

Jordan Charges Geert Wilders with Blasphemy

The Jordanian Prosecutor General on Tuesday charged Geert Wilders, producer of anti-Islam film Fitna with five counts of blasphemy which can carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison. The prosecutor also sent a subpoena through the Dutch embassy to bring Wilders for trial. From what I understood, seeing as he doesn't reside in Jordan, this doesn't mean much unless we ask individual countries that he visits to extradite him, which would limit his freedom of movement.

As dumb as it sounds to hold citizens of other countries accountable by our laws, I think this is a very peaceful form of protest. I'll take lawsuits over angry embassy-vandalizing mobs any day. Plus, he got off easy if you ask me. What saddens me, however, is this gap between cultures that seems to be growing in light of the recent events. Extremists from both sides instigating hatred and discrimination against the other. Whatever happened to civilised discussion?

This is depressing.


secratea said...

freedom of speech.. hate speech, whatever it is.. i still don't understand why Jordan always decides to be in the forefront when it has to do with the Dutch and their so called freedom of speech!

anyway, this reminds me of the Salman Rushdie fatwa controversy with Khumaini and all that deal.. now Wilder gets to enjoy becoming a celeb, thanks to Jordan.

Farah said...

secratea, ya we just love being the centre of attention!

Qwaider قويدر said...

I think any form of peaceful protest including (but not limited to) suing is really civilized and fair. If someone is promoting hate speech, sue them. The law allows it! If someone is causing hardships and making people's lives miserable. Sue them, it's the law!
I think this is a good step. I think it is EXACTLY what people have been waving as "antisemitism" for the past century. I think it's time we learned and did the right thing instead of blaming the whole nation for the position of one. This way, it's only HIM being accused, no one else, no other dutch person is going to suffer for his mistake

Although, the idea of kidnapping my best friend Albert (who is dutch) does sound appealing since he's filthy rich!

kinzi said...

Hi Farah, great blog! :)

I too am glad to see a movement toward a less violent form of protest, but the 'dumbness' of holding another nation's citizens accountable to Jordanian law is making my adopted home an international laughing stock. Among my friends, it is making them even more leery of Islam if a moderate country like Jordan takes this avenue.

I'm no fan of Fitna nor Wilders, but I wonder what you mean when you say he 'got off easy'? It appears he is so closely guarded he has no freedom of movement at all in his free country. Death threats are a part of life for him.

Now that I am back in the US, I am hearing hate speech against Muslims like I never knew existed. BUT, some of my Muslim friends tell me they end their evening prayers with pleas for America's destruction. I discovered on my own blog that quoting parts of the Bible are an insult to Islam. It seems there is a very blurry line between insult and hate speech, and who has the right to define it.

Farah said...

Qwaider, I agree, it's all about being civil.

Kinzi, thanks, i'm very glad you like the blog!

I know exactly what you mean about us becoming a laughstock. Most of the comments I read online were mocking us, which is why i'm somewhat reluctant to see Jordan go down that road. But we're being civil, that's key.

By got 'off easy', I meant that there wasn't the international outrage I expected to see (if the Danish cartoons got that attention, I expected all hell to break loose over this movie). The mere fact that he's still alive is surprising to me.

I think when it comes to freedom of speech, all it takes is some common sense to tell it apart from hate speech. In my opinion, making the movie was absolutely his right. But honestly, what was the point of it? What possible good did he achieve? I agree, it's a very thin line and I wish I knew how we can define it, I just know it's impossible not to offend someone.

Your comment really made me think!

kinzi said...

Farah, I love it when I can make people think, but I also love people who make ME think. :)

Thanks for the clarification. I had a feeling the reaction to Fitna would be more muted, as it seemed a chance for moderate Muslims to influence louder voices after the destruction after the cartoons.

So now that 'civility' has been proven, I hope the next step toward protesting would be within the context of existing laws.

Common sense is an extremely subjective concept between East and West. So is the definition of hate speech. I just the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Illinois, and was astounded at the venom and vitrol in mid-1800s election campaigns!

Lincoln's common response was just to correct lies and accusations and keep living well: this is what silenced his critics' hate. This is what I would recommend to the Muslim community: live in such a way that the goodness of a large number silences the badness of the others that sully your reputation.

Trying to restrict a freedom that is the foundation of America is only going to increase Islamophobia and shrill rhetoric. We Christians have been dealing with hateful contempt for a long time, and we are thriving.

Put the shame on those who make Islam look bad, not those who report on what the bad guys do.

Have a great day. I'm not watching Noor either. :)