Continuing the Islamophobic policies of the Republican Party, Republican Senator Jon Kyl Thursday (2/26/2009) hosted screening of an anti-Islam film ‘Fitna’ at the Capitol building and invited anti-Islam far-right Dutch lawmaker, Geert Wilders, as his guest.
Tellingly, Wilders, whose extreme rightist Freedom Party holds nine seats in the 225-seat Dutch House of Representatives, was denied entry to London on February 12 because British authorities believed that showing his controversial film posed a threat to public order.
Islamophobe Wilders, who built his political career on fear-mongering, compares Islam’s holy book Qur’an to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and calls for its banned.
"Fitna" was released in March 2008 on the internet. It features cherry-picked verses from the Qur'an that equate violence with Islam. At the center of the film are five verses from the Qur'an which are mistranslated, quoted out of context and misinterpreted by Wilders to support his claim that the text is the inspiration for alleged Muslim violence and hate taking place today.
The Capitol Hill event was sponsored by the so-called International Free Press Society, headed by Danish Islamophobist Lars Hedegaard and backed by anti-Islam and anti-Muslim Islamophobes like: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Daniel Pipes, Geert Wilders, Bruce Bawer and Henryk Broder. The other sponsor of the event was the Washington-based think tank, Center for Security Policy, led by a prominent neocon Frank Gaffney which is linked to an anti-Islam group that has advocated prison terms in the U.S. for “adherence to Islam.”
The screening of the film was closed to the public and press, but the film was shown to members of Congress and their staff in the ornate "LBJ room," a Senate office once used by Lyndon B. Johnson as majority leader and later vice president.
Wilders’ film has sparked protests around the world. He was invited to Britain by a member of Parliament’s upper house, the House of Lords, to show his film. But the British government refused Wilders entry into the country, saying he posed a threat to "community harmony." In a letter handed to Wilders at Heathrow airport, the Home Office said he posed “a genuine, present and sufficient threat to the fundamental interests of society.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the British Broadcasting Corp. that Wilders was guilty of "extreme anti-Muslim hate." He said "there is no freedom to stir up racial and religious hatred."
Rep. Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, who is Muslim, compared the screening of “Fitna” on Capitol Hill to showing the infamously racist film “The Birth of a Nation” at the White House. The 1915 silent film provoked great controversy for its treatment of white supremacy and sympathetic account of the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. When the film was shown, riots broke out in Boston, Philadelphia and other major cities. Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and St. Louis refused to allow the film to open.
In a statement, Rep. Ellison said the Fitna movie compares Islam to Nazism, and added that he was disappointed by Sen. Kyl’s decision to screen it in the Capitol:
“I am a strong advocate of First Amendment free speech. However, this is not about free speech, but rather an issue of propriety, timing and venue. Senator Kyl has every right to host anyone he chooses. However, it becomes a question of propriety to use the United States Capitol as a venue for the condemnation of an entire religion.”
The screening of the controversial film at the Capitol Hill coincided with the Senate hearing by Senator John Kerry on “Engaging with Muslim Communities around the World.” At the hearing, Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state under President Clinton and Retired Admiral William Fallon, former Commander of US Central Command shared their views on strengthening U.S.-Muslim relations.
“It seems that Senator Kyl is oblivious to the fact that there are Muslims in his own state who will take offense at this cheap anti-Islam publicity stunt designed to promote a person who is under indictment for inciting religious hatred,” said CAIR-AZ Executive Director Ahmad Daniels.
“Geert Wilders is just one of many self-promoting Islamophobes traveling the world in search of attention for their hate-filled views. We ask that Americans of all faiths ignore Mr. Wilders, thereby depriving him of the attention he so desperately seeks. Wilders has the right to spew his hate, but he does not have the right to a taxpayer-funded platform in the United States Congress.”
The Arab American Institute, in a statement said: “As Senate Republican Minority Whip and the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, Senator Kyl's decision to screen this film is not only unnecessarily provocative, but distasteful and irresponsible.”
The AAI added that 'Fitna' has only one objective: to perpetuate negative stereotypes about Islam. “By linking images of violence and terrorism to gross generalizations and narrations taken out of context, this video is not only inaccurate and unconstructive, but highly offensive.”