Geert Wilders Anti-Qur’an Film:  Silence will be the best response

Tariq Ramadan

Posted Jan 22, 2008      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
Bookmark and Share

Geert Wilders Anti-Qur’an Film:  Silence will be the best response

Netherlands: A movie-provocation about which everybody is talking while nobody knows anything ! Silence will be the best response..

By Tariq Ramadan

Mr. Geert Wilders will launch very soon a short movie, about which nobody knows anything, where it is said that he is going to unveil the true negative essence of Islam, the unhealthy character of the Prophet or maybe the Qur’an’s insanities. Whatever is the content, one understands it is a pure provocation! Silence would be our best response!

The noise surrounding this movie’s launch and the public statements of Mr Geert Wilders are always so extreme that anyone can understand his objective is to provoke a reaction and to get media coverage and attention. For the time being he seems to succeed beyond hope: everybody speaks about a movie nobody has watched being afraid (or hoping) the scandal. M. Geert Wilders is a populist: having no serious real social policy, he is trying to get voters by feeding and using their fears! This is so clear that the Muslims must pass over : Mr Geert Wilders is now revealing his true nature and the best response is to ignore him. The worst case scenario he can expect is indeed not reaction… silence!

Yet we know that in these times of tensions, anything could happen. Governments in the Muslim majority countries, organisations, politicians can use it for the sake of other political stakes. As it happened with the Danish cartoon crisis, some governments and/or religious organizations (radical or not) instrumentalised the whole story to mobilize the people either to divert them from the true problems in their own countries or to get popular support by attacking “the West” represented as “the enemy”. An uncontrolled over-emotional reaction is always possible and some can shape it through some inflammatory statements or kinds of a “protest orchestration” (by some governments or organizations). Thus no one can predict where it is going to end.

People have learned from the cartoon crisis and many will try to calm down the atmosphere but some other presidents or leaders have other agendas and this kind of crisis is very much an opportunity. Actually it is exactly what Mr Geert Wilders himself is looking for! One may hope that the fact that Mr Geert Wilders is known (and that it is clearly a provocation) would help the people to understand it is a trap and they must refuse to be driven into it. This would be the best case scenario.

The Dutch government need to have a preemptive policy built on a clear discourse that the government is not supporting (or even rejecting or condemning) the film and its content but it does not want to interfere in the name of freedom of expression. If any ambassador or politician from a Muslim majority country is asking for an audience, she or he should be received and this positioning should be clearly stated. Wilders should not be prevented from speaking, or be put in jail (as some have suggested) : one should only respond to his argument when there is an argument and simply ignore him when he is acting out of an orchestrated provocation.

Originally published at Alarab online