Monday, March 31, 2008


Originally uploaded by arianne.smidt
Last week was supposed to be Geert Wilders' boost to worldwide fame. The Dutch right-wing populist politician had been drumming up fear and anxiety for months by keeping the release date of his film Fitna secret. Fitna is a calculated attack on Islam and Qur'an. Foreign journalists - including a friend of mine from Finland - travelled to Amsterdam to interview muslims and to witness the likeable violence.

On Wednesday afternoon I got a call from my journalist friend. She was hunting for images of the multicultural clash in Slotervaart, one of Amsterdam's problem neighhbourhoods as characterised by the government. My friend told me on the phone that what they met were Dutch muslims fed up and tired to talk about the issue.

Wilders did not shot himself to grandiose lecturer fees and to international talk shows. His film was pulled off from all websites, he was blamed for using people's work without permission and - most importantly - people sort of consciously ignored his attack on islam after a day. The most common remark I heard was not irritation and anger, it was:"You know, I started watching it and it was really really boring and badly done. I just fastforwarded through it."

Ignoring was not only a Dutch reaction. Altogether it seems that Mr Wilders' attack was miscalculated and ineffective. I may still be proven wrong but as things are now, there is reason for joy. One should not underestimate one's audience, Mr Wilders: we just won't take any sort of crap.

Today on my way to work I glanced through Metro (flat tire, that's why the tram). Mediamatic - the brilliant Dutch new media and culture organisation - did it again: superb reaction to Wilders' film:

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