I've just watched the short anti-Qur'anic film Fitna by Geert Wilders, which one can find online at various places, such as LiveLeak.com, Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch, Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs, and . . . well, you can just Google the word "Fitna" along with the name "Geert Wilders" and find multiple sites online. Update: LiveLeak.com has removed Fitna, but the film has already 'gone viral' at Gates of Vienna.
Though some of the images are graphic and disturbing -- a jumper from the burning World Trade Center, Jack Hensley being decapitated -- the film itself is relatively tame. From the hype beforehand, I was expecting images and words more incendiary toward Islam.
Instead, we see and hear incendiary images and words from Islam.
The technique employed is rather simple. The film shows a violent quote from the Qur'an in both English and the original Arabic, reads it in Arabic, then follows the reading with images of Islamist atrocities accompanied by statements by radical Muslims. This sort of sequence is repeated about five times.
At the end, a hand is shown turning a page of the Qur'an, followed by a blank screen and a ripping sound, as though that page were being torn out, then by a caption stating that "The sound you just heard was a page being torn from the telephone book."
Why a phone book?
No deep message there, I think. Just a way of emphasizing that non-Muslims don't bear responsibility for removing violent verses from the Qur'an. Muslims do.
What's the film's aim? I doubt that Wilders expects Muslims to edit the Qur'an. I think that he instead aims to put Muslims into a bind by depicting Islam as an inherently violent religion and thereby dare them to prove him wrong by responding with reason rather than reacting with threats.
What's the bind?
If they respond with reason, then they have to begin engaging with non-Muslim deconstructions of the Qur'an. If they react with violence, then they serve only to demonstrate his point.
For the committed Muslim who prefers neither horn of the dilemma, pious silence would be the best strategy.
I don't think that we'll enjoy very much of that.