In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, a member of the House of Representatives and leader of the Freedom Party, has made a short film on the theme that Islam is conducive to violence. That proposition is controversial in some circles, but not, as far as I can tell, because it is alleged to be false; on the contrary. The universal threat made by Muslim extremists against those who say that Islam condones violence is–violence.
That’s old news, of course. What’s new is the role played by Iran. Iran’s “Justice Minister”–I guess that means he’s in charge of hanging homosexuals and stoning adulterous women–has demanded that the Netherlands suppress Wilders’ film, which apparently has not yet been shown anywhere:
The Iranian Justice Minister has called on his Dutch counterpart to stop the production of an anti-Islam movie before it is too late.
“Insulting the beliefs of the followers of a certain religion should not be justified under the pretext of freedom of expression, as this is a misuse of this concept, “Gholam Hossein Elham wrote in a letter to Ernst Hirsch Ballin.
Note the ominous phrase “before it is too late.” That should be read together with the Iranian’s suggestion that the Dutch can censor Wilders’ film, consistent with the second clause of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, because, inter alia, doing so may “prevent disorder.”
It is extraordinary for the government of one nation to instruct the government of another as to what movies it may permit to be shown within its own country. I can’t, offhand, think of any precedent. Iran’s demand is consistent, however, with its view of itself as spokesman for Muslims who live in the Netherlands and around the world.
So far, at least, the Dutch government has refused to suppress Wilders’ movie, although its Prime Minister has helpfully suggested that “anyone who was offended could seek legal redress.” So freedom of speech hangs on, for now. One wonders, though, how the Netherlands would react if Iran’s demand were backed by nuclear warheads with a delivery system that could reach into the heart of Europe.
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