Anti-Quran Filmmaker Calls for Int'l Free Speech Law

Dutch lawmaker and filmmaker Geert Wilders, whose critical views on Islam have drawn controversy worldwide, called for an International First Amendment on Friday that would repeal all hate speech laws.

Wilder, founder of the Freedom Party, was denied entry to the United Kingdom last month because the government refused to allow him to screen his controversial film "Fitna" to the British Parliament.

During a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., Wilders discussed the recent attacks and prosecution he is facing for speaking against Islam and for showing his film.

He also joined the International Free Press Society in announcing a global initiative to protect free speech from laws that criminalize hate speech, whether they are criticisms of Islam or the doctrines of Shariah.

Lars Hedegaard, president of the International Free Press Society, said in a statement that hate speech and blasphemy laws in many European countries "lack clarity as to precisely what they aim to criminalize" and are usually "unequally applied."

"The way to deal with controversial, offensive or even hateful statements — unless they are directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action — is to expose them to public debate and criticism," he stated.

The press conference on Friday included a screening of "Fitna," which includes images of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States and bombings by Islamic extremists that are interspersed with quotations from the Quran. The word "fitna" is an Arabic term that is sometimes translated as "strife" or "ordeal."

Wilders toured the United States this past week, with stops in New York, Boston, New York City and Washington, to rally support for the campaign to protect free speech worldwide. On Thursday, he screened his film to the U.S. Senate.

In New York City, Wilders told an audience who just watched the film that the Islamization of the free West is the biggest threat freedom and democracy.

He said the biggest disease to Europe is not just Islamization but is the leftist liberal concept of muticulturalism and culture relativism. Despite many people thinking all cultures are the same, said Wilders, Islamic culture is like a "culture of barbarism."

"Islam is not a religion but an ideology that is very dangerous," he said. If anything, it should not be compared with other religions like Christianity or Judaism, but with other totalitarian ideologies like Facism.

Since "Fitna" released in March 2008, Islamic and Arab leaders have strongly denounced the film, calling it insulting and defamatory. The World Council of Churches had also criticized the provocative film, saying it failed to distinguish between Islam and violent extremism.

Wilders has also drawn fire for calling for the ban of the Quran. The Dutch lawmaker has likened Islam's holy book to Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," which was banned by Holland years ago.

Wilders is currently facing prosecution in Holland for alleged "incitement to hatred and discrimination." A Dutch court in January ordered prosecutors to put the politician on trial.

If convicted, Wilders could face up to two years in jail, but he is confident that he will be acquitted.

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