Czech Muslim organization invites controversial Dutch politician to screen anti-Islamic film

24-11-2009

After the Czech Senate banned a planned appearance on its premises by the controversial far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders last week, the Czech Muslim organization Libertas Independent Agency on Monday surprised many by extending an invitation to him. The organization is offering to host a screening of Mr. Wilders anti-Islamic film Fitna and organize a debate on the subject.

Senator Jiří Oberfalzer’s invitation to Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders who was to screen his anti-Islamic film Fitna and address a conference on the Islamization of Europe and freedom of speech was met with shock and disbelief last week. The Senate’s chair Přemysl Sobotka made it clear that the head of the Dutch Party for Freedom would not be welcome on the premises and his planned appearance was banned by the Senate.

Mr. Oberfalzer then said that he would look for another venue to accommodate his controversial guest. Help came from a most unexpected quarter. The Czech Muslim organization Libertas Independent Agency has seconded the invitation to Mr. Wilders and is offering a venue where he can screen his controversial film.

The organization’s spokesman Lukáš Lhoťan thinks that screening the film prior to an open discussion is the best way to address the anti-Islamic sentiments it contains.

“We have seen what happens when prejudices are ignored, such as in the middle of the 20th century, when anti-Semitism was mostly ignored and it didn’t prevent the Holocaust and the murdering of 6 million Jews, so we decided to learn from history. And based on the fact that the best way to fight prejudices and hatred and to reveal manipulation is to have an open discussion, we decided to choose this strategy.”

Other representatives of the several-dozen-thousand-strong Muslim community in the Czech Republic believe the best policy would be to ignore Geert Wilders. Mohammed Abbas, head of the Muslim Union of the Czech Republic, thinks he can’t be taken seriously.

“This man is ridiculous and his film is also ridiculous. He is a member of a party that calls itself Freedom Party, he is coming to speak about freedom in Europe, but at the end of the film, he is asking to stop of the freedom of Europeans, which is really ridiculous more than controversial.”

Mr. Lhoťan said on Tuesday that he had no idea whether Geert Wilders would accept the invitation. Libertas’ top choice for the discussion with Mr. Wilders would be the Czech Republic’s only Muslim spiritual leader Imam Emir Omič.

24-11-2009