Despite the fact that it dominated the airwaves all day yesterday, the subject of freedom of speech vis-à-vis Geert Wilders is by no means exhausted. Of all the coverage in the mainstream media, the BBC didn’t come out too badly. The best of a bad lot. Sky made a great fuss about airports, planes landing and Wilders on an escalator, but it amounted to little. What I saw of Channel 4 was pathetic. The BBC had the most memorable moment. It had to be Miliband, after condemning this vile hateful deliberately provocative film, with exquisite Comedy Timing, admitting that he hadn’t seen it.
Several things struck me about the whole media coverage fiasco.
1. Hardly anyone brought up Lord Ahmed’s disgraceful threat to mobilise ten thousand Muslims if Wilders was allowed in, and no-one at all alluded to him crowing about this ‘victory for Muslims’ to the Pakistani press.
2. All the people who were speaking in support of Wilders, Baroness Cox, Lord Pearson, and co., did so in the name of free speech; they were all
oh-so-careful to insist that they ‘did not agree with him’, giving the impression that they disagreed entirely with his views on Islam, rather than the more nuanced disagreement I assume they meant. (that the Koran should be banned altogether)
3. All this potential violence that is waiting to be unleashed. – Who by?” Is it to be “Islamophobic” violence against Muslims stirred up by the film, perpetrated by those violent Jews and gays? Or is it violence by members of the religion of peace, enraged at criticism of the very Jihadi extremists they are supposed to disapprove of?
The content of Fitna was repeatedly described as ‘shots of horrific acts of violence juxtaposed with selected Koranic verses’. “Revolting!” “Repulsive!”
In the light of the loudly proclaimed assurance by Lord Ahmed that every single word of the Koran has equal importance and is of vital significance, I can’t see many grounds for the oft heard claims that that the majority of Muslims are moderate, and that Islam is the religion of peace. Furthermore, footage of ranting mullahs and suicide bombers which furnished the most undeniable examples of incitement to hatred and violence in the film were largely overlooked.
4. As for Salma Yaqoob, the only member of last night’s QT panel who actually spoke up for Geert’s visit, (in the name of free speech, naturally,) and the member of the Quilliam Foundation, I think it was Maajid Nawaz, who spoke in a similar vein in another programme, I can’t help feeling that they were not being entirely honest. I suspect that if they hadn’t known that Geert Wilders had already been safely and securely sent packing, they would have been singing a different tune. But taking advantage of the moral high ground from a position of safety by pretending to be magnanimous wasn’t very convincing.
5. Have they banned Hizb-ut Tahrir yet?