A Republican Senator was to hold a private screening of the controversial anti-Islam film ‘Fitna’ Thursday for congressional staff and invited guests, including the filmmaker Geert Wilders, who was recently deported from Britain and faces prosecution for incitement in Holland.
Arizona Senator Jon Kyle reserved the congressional room for the event sponsored by Wilder’s International Free Press Society and the Washington-based Center for Security Policy (CPS). Wilder, a member of parliament, lives under 24-hour police protection and is facing prosecution for “incitement to hatred and discrimination” because of his anti-Islam film.
The 17-minute film accuses the Quran of inciting violence, juxtaposing verses of the Quran with violent images of terrorism, the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and virulent speeches by Muslim imams in a montage that links the Islamic faith to support for terrorism.
Dutch television refused to air ‘Fitna’ as it was released online in March 2008 where it generated intense anger among Muslim communities and attempts by several governments to censor the film. Al-Qaeda even issued a fatwa against Wilders,
One of the co-sponsors of Thursday’s screenings refused to comment on the accusation that the film is anti-Islamic and equates Islam with terrorism, suggesting that people should decide for themselves if the film incited hatred.
“The best answer to any question about the film is to watch the film yourself,” Christine Brim, senior vice-president of CPS, told AlArabiya.net.
Wilders was prevented to from entering Britain earlier this month, where he hoped to show his film in the British parliament, because British authorities said his presence in would pose a "genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society."
The Center for Security Policy headed by a former advisor to Ronald Reagan, Frank Gaffney, and advocates an American foreign policy of “Peace through Strength” with a primary goal combating the ideology of Islamist extremism.
The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Kyl to invite Muslim representatives to offer a balancing perspective to the screening.
“It seems that Senator Kyl is oblivious to the fact that there are Muslims in his own state who will take offense at this cheap anti-Islam publicity stunt designed to promote a person who is under indictment for inciting religious hatred,” said CAIR-AZ Executive Director Ahmad Daniels.
“Geert Wilders is just one of many self-promoting Islamophobes traveling the world in search of attention for their hate-filled views. We ask that Americans of all faiths ignore Mr. Wilders, thereby depriving him of the attention he so desperately seeks. Wilders has the right to spew his hate, but he does not have the right to a taxpayer-funded platform in the United States Congress.”
Wilders was in Washington for the screening and to promote a new initiative by IFPS, which he heads, “to protect free speech from laws that criminalize any criticisms of Islam or the doctrines of Sharia,” to be launched Friday at the National Press Club.
“It’s not our position that people should be kept out of the country for
their views but it doesn’t mean you have to give them a platform, paid for by the taxpayers,” CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, told AlArabiya.net, adding that the closed-door screening meant no media or public access to the event.
“Why do they have to hide it if they’re so proud it?” he added.
Several attempts by AlArabiya.net to seek comment from the Senator’s office went unanswered.
Senator Keith Ellison, the only Muslim member of congress, refused requests from AlArabiya.net for comment on whether he would attend the screening and what he thought about the film.