Fitna at the House of Lords on Thursday (and it wasn’t Ahmed who delayed it)
The UKIP peer Lord Pearson of Rannoch has just issued a press release revealing that the postponed screening of Geert Wilders’ Fitna at the House of Lords will now take place on Thursday 12th February. Baroness Cox will chair the event, and there will be a question and answer session with Wilders after the showing.
Extra security has been ordered.
Contrary to Lords Ahmed’s claims in the Pakistan press that the event had been cancelled in response to his and other Muslim leaders’ threats, which apparently represented a “victory for the Muslim community”, Pearson states that the postponement was in order to “allow time for clarification on issues concerning freedom of speech”.
Parliament has ordered extra security for a House of Lords event with the controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders. The private screening of Wilders’ film Fitna was initially postponed to allow time for clarification on issues concerning freedom of speech. Despite threats of demonstration from a British Peer and Muslim community leaders, the meeting will go ahead Thursday 12th February.
Wilders’ film Fitna features verses from the Quran alongside images of the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. The film equates Islam’s holy text with violence and ends with a call to Muslims to remove ‘hate-preaching’ verses from the Quran. It provoked protests in Muslim-majority countries including Indonesia and Pakistan.
The leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, Wilders has lived under 24-hour police protection since 2004. Following Fitna’s release online in March 2008 al-Qaeda issued a fatwa calling for Wilders’ murder.
Wilders currently faces prosecution in Holland for incitement to hatred and discrimination. The charges are based on his film Fitna and comments in the Dutch press last year in which he argued that as Mein Kampf has been banned in Holland, the Quran should similarly be banned under Dutch incitement laws.
Wilders called the Dutch Court of Appeal’s decision to prosecute an attack on freedom of expression. “Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted,” he said.
The court ruled that prosecution does not conflict with Wilders’ right to freedom of speech. “Statements which create hate and grief made by politicians, taken their special responsibility into consideration, are not permitted according to European standards,” the court said in a statement.
The House of Lords event, originally scheduled for January, was not postponed in response to the threats made by the British Peer, Lord Ahmed. However, Lord Ahmed told the Pakistani press that the decision to stop the screening was “a victory for the Muslim community”.
Following the private screening there will be a press conference:
“The Quran and Freedom of Speech” A screening of Fitna (2008 – 17 mins)
Q&A with Geert Wilders MP (Holland)
No. 1 Abbey Gardens
Thursday 12th February 6:00 – 7:00pm
UPDATE: (17:35) An email from Baroness Cox explains in more detail what is meant by the “clarification on issues concerning freedom of speech”. Apparently, the original postponement occurred as a result of the organisers finding out that Wilders had previously called for the banning of the Koran, and that therefore
it seemed then a little inconsistent to proceed by giving a platform to someone who was advocating censorship
It was not until after this decision was made that they learned about Lord Ahmed’s threat of disruption.
this threat was not the reason for the postponement of that meeting
Ahmed’s boast to the APP was unjustified – as was the hysteria from some less scrupulous anti-Islam bloggers (just about all of them, in fact) who were claiming, without reliable sources, that parliament had been cowed by his threats to round up “10,000 Muslims” to prevent Wilders entering the House.