Internet Co. Suspends Web Site for Film Critical of Islam

Patrick Goodenough | International Editor | Monday, March 24, 2008

Internet Co. Suspends Web Site for Film Critical of Islam

( - A U.S.-based Internet company has pre-emptively suspended access to a Web site on which a controversial Dutch lawmaker was planning to post a short film examining links between Islamic terrorism and the Koran.

For the past several weeks, anyone typing into their Web browser the URL would have reached only a black screen, an image of the Koran, and the words, "Geert Wilders presents Fitna. Coming Soon." No other pages were accessible.

At the weekend, however, the hosting company, Virginia-based Network Solutions, replaced the screen with a message saying it had received "a number of complaints" about the site and had suspended it while investigating whether the "content" violated its acceptable-use policy.

Wilders, leader of the right-wing Freedom Party which holds nine of the 150 seats in the Dutch parliament, registered the site late last month ahead of his planned release of a 15-minute film which he said aimed to show how Islam's primary text has been the inspiration in parts of the world for "intolerance, murder and terror."

Media reports on the film -- whose title is an Arabic word used in the Koran, translated as "strife" or "ordeal" -- prompted street demonstrations in several Islamic countries, diplomatic protests, and warnings from the Dutch and other European governments about an expected, possibly violent, backlash.

Earlier this month, a spokeswoman for Network Solutions said anyone unhappy about any site it hosts could complain, and the company would assess the content against its acceptable-use policy.

The policy includes a broad prohibition on obscene or harmful material that includes "hate propaganda" and anything "profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable."

The spokeswoman also sounded optimistic that the company, which manages some seven million Internet domain names, could handle any denial-of-service or other electronic attacks that may come its way "from anywhere for any reason."

Wilders said last week he planned to release the film on the Internet "before April 1, and no, this is not an April 1 joke." His earlier attempts to get Dutch broadcasters to screen it were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile an Islamic organization in the Netherlands has asked a district court in The Hague to assess the film with a view to banning it. So far, Wilders has refused to let Dutch government officials see the film.

Earlier, the lawmaker wrote that the controversy already caused by a film that has yet to be seen by the public supports his argument that Islam is an intolerant ideology with " no room for matters like self-reflection and self-criticism."

Some European governments have voiced concern that Muslim anger over the film could trigger a repeat of the violent protests that erupted in several countries in early 2006 over the publication of cartoons of Mohammed.

Statements posted on the Web sites of Dutch embassies in a number of foreign capitals make it clear that Wilders' views on Islam do not "represent the perspective or policy of the Dutch government in any way."

In another damage-control effort, senior Dutch church leaders plan a visit this week to Cairo, where they will seek an audience with Mufti Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, one of Sunni Islam's leading religious authorities.

See Also:
Film on Islam Making Waves, Even Though No One's Seen It Yet (Feb. 5, 2008)

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