|Muhammed:||“My uncle used to tell me great stories about a man named Jesus and his eleven… eh… warriors, or something. I really wanted to be like him, and I think I lived up to the expectations. I met him; we are actually good friends. We hang out a lot together, we play poker sometimes, we both cheat a bit and have a laugh about it afterwards. We don’t play for money, of course.”|
Even before the film was screened, the trouble began. According to Elsevier, as translated by our Flemish correspondent VH:
Jami Film: Embassy in Kabul now already spreads panic
Before even anyone has even seen the Ehsan Jami’s film, measures are being taken. The Dutch embassy in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, says “to be alert” [and still has the Fitna warning on its opening page — VH]
Until yesterday evening, the NCTb and the AIVD have consulted together and made a risk analysis. Under guard, Jami may show his English-language film in Nieuwspoort.
The possibility that the film will cause fierce reactions cannot be excluded, the embassy writes in a letter [to Dutch citizens in Afghanistan]. The diplomatic representation urges citizens to track closely the developments concerning the film in the Netherlands, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world.
Until now, the announcement of the film has not caused comments in Afghanistan or the Afghan media, the embassy said.
Also from VH:
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This is my translation of the first critique of the film, by the esteemed professor Afshin Ellian (who previewed the film or maybe even advised Jami while he worked on it together with a few friendly artists).
To be complete I added links at almost all the positions that Ellian added links to articles, and tried to find similar English language versions.
I will keep a sharp eye out for more information. The press conference by Jami will be in The Hague today at 15:30 local time.
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Resentful Muslims: bow deep before Jami’s film!
By Afshin Ellian*
Mohammad: Every historical character has been burdened with difficult facts and standards. Facts are not rewritable, standards however can be. Ehsan Jami: But in your history it is hard to separate the facts and standards. Mohammad: Yes, that is my tragedy: I am the author, player and also the witness of my own drama.. Ehsan Jami: Whose drama is more tragic? Yours or the tragic situation in which millions of Muslims have come? In this tragedy you are the director. But the players played on after you retired. Mohammad: True. But I never completely left the scene. Let us start, and leave therefore the Rasul Allah [the prophet of God] and release people of what I was and of what I never want to be anymore. This is what you call emancipation. Or am I getting too complicated?
In all peace, he has been working quietly for months on his film. Even before Geert Wilders wanted to make a film, he was planning a short film about the Prophet Mohammed. I was allowed to see it. Though I am not allowed to tell here in detail about the dialogues in the film “An interview with Mohammad.”
Yes, finally after more than 1,400 years a Muslim interviews the prophet Mohammed. And this is unique in the history of Islam. This has not in any way ever happened before.
In this movie Jami shows how he has really grown in the meantime. The dialogue between him as interviewer and the prophet Muhammad is a mature, critical conversation. This is the first interview the Prophet Mohammed gives in a critical medium.
A former religious partner asks him, after nearly 1,400 years, to look at himself as a historical figure. Or rather how the prophet Mohammed would judge his own acts and statements in the year 2008.
This is very intelligent. Moreover, this is exactly what reform-minded Muslims do: they want to see Prophet Mohammed as a historical figure and place him in the context of our history.
The artists who helped Jami in making this movie just wanted to make a movie that was in no way similar to any previous movies about Islam.
Therefore it lacks background music. That makes it sober, but at the same time this gives a particularly intellectual aspect. Because of that, the emphasis is on the dialogue. That is what we all want for sure: a critical and non-violent dialogue in the Islamic world.
But unintentionally the writer (Jami) and the makers of the film place themselves in the same way as the world of Islam: the world of words but no music. Is that a disadvantage? No, because all the background music may seem somewhat demagogic. And that is what they certainly did not want.
Unfriendly and cynical
At the same time, Jami shows again that he comes from an Islamic culture. And this is an effective weapon for unleashing a debate in the Muslim world. This debate will probably not take place in the spotlight, but it will take place in the minds of thousands of young Muslims.
And this was exactly the intent of the makers of the film. It is truly an interview with Prophet Mohammed, as would have been done by NOVA. Unfortunately, I am not allowed today to get into other details here of the dialogues — somewhere Muhammed even gets the chance to defend himself.
What also struck me is the friendly attitude of Jami, the interviewer, towards the Prophet Mohammed. Because we could expect that once Jami — the threatened, abused ex-Muslim — would sit down opposite a masked Mohammed, he automatically would become unfriendly and cynical. Because the enemy, with or without a mask, in the real or imaginary theater of life, still remains the enemy..
A victim of the Taliban will hate the Taliban under all circumstances. Even when a few actors would play the role of the Taliban. Because Jami handles Mohammed so kindly, unwittingly a mystical relationship comes into existence with the masked prophet Muhammad.
He seemingly is not going to eradicate the Prophet Mohammed. Ehsan, the ex-Muslim who raised the anger of the Islamists and European leftists on him, just want to see reborn a softer, more forgiving, critical Mohammed.
This all is that Jami wants, even when he does not believe in him any more. It is touching. The resentful fundamentalists should not threaten Jami nor our country. They should bow deep to this genuine and almost religious call from an ex-Muslim.
Not the political polemics, but ultimately the power of art (and artists) was able to bring out Jami’s innocent desire for freedom and humanity from concealment. I have great respect for the artists who have helped Jami.
This is why I want to pay tribute here to the courage and wisdom of the artists who have made this movie. Many unfortunately have a big mouth in terms of freedom, but when it comes down to the line, they are not prepared, not even in secrecy, to support the fight for freedom, nor to promote it.
Interview with Muhammad is a simple, yet profound and significant film. Unfortunately though, it is also a problematic film. We have been reading all the messages of news programs that have retraced their earlier promises. They were not prepared to be the first to report about this movie. They do not want to be endangered nor threatened.
What for we commemorate May 4 [victims of WWII] and May 5 [liberation day, surrender of the Germans in WWII]?* Do we want to stimulate civil courage on those days? What courage? Some people and some institutions simply do not have any.
How can we promote civil courage in people who do not have any courage? Maybe perhaps those are the same people who admire the courage of journalists and intellectuals in junta led countries such as Chile under Pinochet. But themselves, oh no, that goes too far.
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* Ellian links here to the article: “Anger about May 5 debate of Pechtold with anti-Semite; Wednesday, May 3, 2006: The Jewish community has reacted furiously to the intention of Minister for Administrative Renewal, Alexander Pechtold [D66, Democrats 66, liberal leftists] to enter a debate with the radical Muslim leader Abu Jahjah on Liberation Day…”
Afshin Ellian (1966) is professor of social cohesion, citizenship and multiculturalism at the University of Leiden, a poet and thinker. He has resided in the Netherlands since 1989. The esteemed professor Ellian “defends the ideals and freedoms of Western culture” daily in the Dutch opinion magazine Elsevier. Apart from this, he is also a mentor of Ehsan Jami and also convinced the Dutch Security Service to protect Jami since the latter was beaten up and threatened for openly criticizing Islam and defending apostasy.
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Also: here is an old interview with Ehsan Jami from The Hague/ Amsterdam/ Rotterdam Times by Lula Ahrens, just before he was kicked out the PvdA. It may contain some interesting stands and views of Jami.
Quotes:“How sore is the subject of apostasy within the Dutch Muslim community?
“Very sore. That is obvious from the reactions I get; mosque leaders proclaim that I am an incestuous monster and a d**khead.
Also, I have received over three hundred e-mails from ex-Muslims. This is a gigantic problem. Muslims who renounce their religion lose their family and friends. Islam is not a religion, it is a sect. It doesn’t even let go of its followers.
I have read the most heart-breaking stories imaginable, for instance from an Iraqi guy who told me: ‘Ever since I left Islam, I have a major conflict with my parents, whom I haven’t seen for two years. I have lost all of my friends and family’. I know many people who have moved abroad because they couldn’t cope with life in The Netherlands, because their communities’ views are so strict. A girl wrote to me that she cries day and night because her parents don’t allow her to fall away from her belief and force her to wear a headscarf. That hurts. I have to admit that I am touched by stories like these.”
“I have an Islamic background, but fortunately I have had a liberal upbringing. My mother was converted to Christianity a few years ago. My father is still a Muslim, but not a practicing one. The rest of my family — grandfather, grandmother, nephews, nieces — are. After 11 September 2001 I studied the Koran, and reached the conclusion that I cannot identify with Islam. I then renounced my religion. And by the way, who cares whether I have been raised according to the Islam or not?”
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her fight for women’s’ rights, but my approach is very different.
Other than her, I do want to start a dialogue with the Muslim community and visit mosques and Islamic schools. They should be preaching that Muslims are allowed to fall away from their belief, that girls can choose not to wear a head scarf.”
Will the integration and emancipation of Muslims be your main point of interest as member of the PvdA Board?
“No, of course not. I want the PvdA to be a party that all Duchy citizens are proud of. Not the party of Allah, just the PvdA (Labour Party).
Does that mean that according to you, the PvdA is currently a ‘party of Allah’?
“A little, yes. The PvdA has not formulated a clear stance with regard to the Armenian genocide, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and myself.”
What is your personal situation like at the moment; are you still studying science of public administration?
“No, I quit. The pressure became too much. I feel that it is unsafe to go to school. One third of the students there is of immigrant descent; I have been abused and intimidated several times already.”