Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More free speech

Speaking in Canberra today, Dutch Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop played down any threat to coalition military forces in Afghanistan as a result of an anti-Islamic film soon to be released by a Dutch MP.

The documentary, Fitna, by right-wing MP Geert Wilders, describes the Koran as an inspiration for murder and probably will not be as dangerous to troops as debate about the mission in Canada.

Recall Canadian Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier's firm position at the end of February: "I'm not going to stand here and tell you that the suicide bombings of this past week have been related to the debate back here in Canada, but I also cannot stand here and say that they are not."

Middelkoop said the Dutch Government had embarked on a round of diplomacy in the Islamic world to denounce the film, but this is not evident yet in the press.

Last month, 17 Danish newspapers decided to reprint the same 12 cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohamed that were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in late 2005. Al-Ahram columnist Fahmy Howeidy commented that "The West does not respect Muslim countries in general. But it also cherishes freedom of expression above all else, because it has lost touch with anything holy."

Enjoy your rights.

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