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No More Fitna

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'No More Fitna' was the first project started by the Center for Arab-West Understanding and underscored the importance of encouraging and facilitating inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue. To read the projects proposal, please see here.
 
As Cornelis Hulsman of CAWU said on the matter; "We feel strongly that Wilders' comments were deliberately offensive and were intended to promote a fear of Muslims, with the apparent aim of winning votes. This is highly irresponsible and will undoubtedly cause great damage to many years of dialogue between peoples of different cultures. Wilder's film appears to have compounded and exacerbated these effects."
 
 
In 2008, the controversial Dutch MP, Geert Wilders, released the short-film 'Fitna' on the website Liveleak. Approximately 15 minutes in length, the film shows Qu'ranic quotes intermingled with clips and images of violence arguing that Islam incites people to violence.
 
In anticipation of the film's release in late March 2008, CAWU organised a delegation of Islamic and Christian leaders to come to Cairo on March 24 to March 28. The delegation consisted of:
  • Dr. Bas Plaisier, Secretary-General of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands
  • Mr. Ahmed Driss el- Boujoufi, Chairman of the Contact Committee, Muslims and Government
  • Mr. Abdelmajid Khairoun, board member of Contact Group Islam and Chairman of the Dutch Muslim Council
  • Mrs. Zainab al- Touraihi, Secretary of Contact Committee, Muslims and Government
  • Dr. Marzouk Aulad Abdellah, Lecturer at the Free University in Amsterdam
  • Father Dr. Ton van Eijk, Secretary-General of the Dutch Council of Churches
  • Mr.Jielis van Baalen, delegation member for the Protestant Church in the Netherlands
"The main message that the delegation seeks to send to the Arab and Islamic world is that the Dutch men of religion, as well as many people, refuse the content of the offensive film and also the statements of the producer," said Dr. Bas Plaisier, head of the delegation and secretary-general of the Protestant Church in The Netherlands. The high-level delegation met with representatives of the three major Christian churches in Egypt, students of Cairo University, and the shaykh of the Azhar. 
 
The meeting was presided over by Dr. Hassan Wagieh of al- Azhar University.
 
To see what delegates told the media, click here.
 
We also took part in the lively discussion at Cairo University on 8 April 2008.
 
Two days later, on the 28 March 2008, CAWU released a petition to the Dutch Parliament in protest against the actions of MP Geert Wilders and his polarization of dialogue between Muslims and Christians and the Arab World and the West. It was signed by 97 individuals including professors from the Azhar and Cairo Universities, members of the ENAWU network, journalists, students and representatives from all the Christian denominations in Egypt; Coptic Orthodox Bishop Marcos, Coptic Catholic Bishop Qulta, head of the Coptic Evangelical Community Council (Maglis el-­ Milli) Rev. Dr. Safwat al-­ Bayadi. We would like to thank all signatories for responding in such a short span of time!
Read the petition in English and Arabic.
 
The petition was taken back to the Netherlands to hand to Mrs. Gerti Verbeet, chair of the Dutch Parliament (Tweede Kamer der Staten Generaal) by Rev. Dr. Bas Plaisier. Read more about the petition here
 
On June 3, 2008, the Dutch Parliament confirmed the delivery of the petition from the Center for Arab-West Understanding. 
 
“Your letter of March 28 with a petition concerning Mr. Wilders who disturbs the necessary dialogue between cultures, has been distributed to members of the Committees for Internal Affairs, Kingdom relations and Justice. Members of the committees are aware of the letter and petition, but they do not undertake further actions on the basis of the letter at the moment. But the committees wrote that ‘individual members could possibly decide to include your letter in future activities.’”
 

 

 
 
We deeply regret Geert Wilders' film was released, despite repeated pleas from churches and Muslim organizations across the world not to do so. Wilders referred to several Qur'anic texts and presents them deliberately out of context. The Center for Arab-West Understanding asked Prof. Dr. Hassan Wagieh (Azhar professor and member of the Higher Islamic Council in Egypt) and Imam Fadel Soliman of Bridges Foundation to present the commonly accepted Muslim interpretation of these texts.
 
Dr. Hassan Mohamed Wageih, Expert in the Linguistics of Negotiation & Cross-Cultural Communication at al- Azhar wrote on 'the Wilders Trap' which he presented to the delegation.
 
Imam Fadel Soliman of Bridges Foundation wrote the following piece - '“Fitna is greater than killing”: Exposing Wilders’ manipulation of the Qur'an'.
 
Just as Christians do not want Biblical texts to be presented out of context, Muslims do not wish this to happen with texts from the Qur'an. We should not blame entire religious communities for the statements and deeds of a few extremists. Generalizing the deeds of a few to an entire community only drives communities apart and plays into the hands of extremists. We will continue to oppose that. 
 
 
 
Reports and articles concerning Geert Wilders and 'Fitna'.