Iran: Even the moderates don't understand the Netherlands

This is an article from Trouw's correspondent in Iran.

1. If Iranian 'moderates' don't understand Dutch freedom of speech, that's not a problem with the Netherlands.
2. Iran has no freedom of the press, and if Wilders is 'starring' in Iranian newspapers and on TV that's because the Iranian government has an agenda in doing so.
3. One would think that the big difference between Rushdie and Wilders is that one is Muslim and supposedly has to follow Muslim law and the other isn't and doesn't, even according to Muslim law. It is therefore a very 'un-moderate' step for Sanei to ignore that point. As mentioned in the book Islamists and Naivists, the expectation of radical Muslims that non-Muslims in non-Muslim countries have to abide by Muslim law is a quite new development.


The anti-Islam film of Wilders is the talk of the day in Iran. Also liberal intellectuals think that the Netherlands should intervene.
The average Iranian citizen has a romantic picture of the Netherlands. Maybe that's because in the past Iranian schoolbooks had a photo of the Keukenhof, but for the average Iranian the Netherlands is a place full of flowers where the people are all free and rich.

But a month ago people in Tehran learned of Geert Wilders' plans to make an anti-Islam film. The news got to Iranian newspapers and the state television. The chairman of the parliamentarian committee for security and foriegn affairs, Alaeddin Boroejerdi, warned the Dutch government already then to ban the film. Last week the Iranian minister of Justice, Gholam-Hossein Elham, repeated that in a letter to his Dutch colleague Hirsch Ballin.

"I think though that the Dutch government will in the end do something. If it's so clearly damaging for both the relations between population groups in the Netherlands itself as well as for the position of the Netherlands in the world, than it's the job of the government to intervene, no?" Iranian biology professor Hosseini doesn't understand why the Dutch government doesn't ban the film of parliament member Geert Wilders. The Iranian government finds many intellectuals such as Hosseini on her side, some of whom seem themselves as fairly liberal.

The Netherlands is at the moment lumped together with Denmark, now that the cartoon affair is revived after the reprinting of the Muhammad cartoons in Danish and Dutch newspapers. 215 of the 291 Iranian parliament members asked president Ahmadinejad in a letter Monday to revise the economic and diplomatic relations with the Netherlands and Denmark.

Also grand-ayatollah Sanei speaks in his office in the holy city of Qom of his surprise about the fact that the Dutch government doesn't stop Wilders. A fatwa was declared against Salman Rushdie, outlawing him. How big is the chance that there will be a fatwa against Wilders?

Sanei looks out meditatively. "With Rushdie it was somewhat different," he says with a cracking voice. "He had really seriously insulted the prophet and all aspects of Islam. I don't know what this man will do with his film." But Sanei is known as a moderate progressive, it's not unthinkable that his hardline colleague-ayatollahs would think differently.

Due to Wilders' film the Dutch embassy in Tehran has meanwhile taken extra security measures.

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Technical universities forced to reject Iranians

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