Fitna debate turns confrontational
Lower House debate on Tuesday night on the film turned into a huge confrontation between Freedom Party MP Geert Wilders and the government.2 April 2008
The Lower House debate on Tuesday night on the anti-Qur'an film Fitna turned into a huge confrontation between Freedom Party MP Geert Wilders and the government.
The debate was called to question why prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende felt it necessary to make a televised statement on the same evening the film went on line.
During the debate confidential documents were released in which a meeting in early November between Wilders, the justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin and interior minister Guusje Ter Horst was recorded.
The document clearly states that the government ministers were concerned about the end of the film in which Wilders planned to tear out verses or suras from the Qu'ran and throw them into a fireplace.
The documents were released at the request of MPs after the Freedom Party leader disputed that he had told the government ministers anything about the content of the film. Wilders gave his permission.
The documents threw a new light on why the government had called the situation a "crisis" and warned about possible "attacks". Wilders became furious, "I am being taken for a ride, taken for a ride by the minister. This is deception. Lies."
Minister Hirsch Ballin suggested that the film had been adapted after their meeting, as the penultimate scene shows a hand grabbing a page in the Qur'an and as the screen goes blank the viewer sees the message that the tearing sounds they are hearing are pages from a phone book.
Wilders came under fire during his five minutes speaking time in the emergency debate, which after interruptions lasted two hours. Almost all MPs accused him of lumping all Muslims together and not providing any solutions. There was broad support for the way in which the government had handled the whole affair. A motion of no-confidence submitted by Wilders was only supported by his own party.
During the debate, Wilders demanded that the prime minister apologise for the alarmist reaction to the film before he or anyone else had seen any part of it. Prime minister Balkenende said it was Wilders that should apologise to all Muslims of good will, who reacted moderately to Fitna.
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]