Thursday, May 7, 2009

‘Fitna’ Producer Attacks Dutch Diplomat Over Islam Lecture

Unwavering anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders is not only going after Islam. He has now gone after and exposed a fellow politician who is pro-Islamic. Hopefully more will follow.

‘Fitna’ producer attacks Dutch diplomat over Islam lecture
Ary Hermawan

Geert Wilders, the controversial Dutch politician who caused an uproar in the Muslim world for his deliberately provocative film Fitna, is now targeting fellow countryman, Dutch Ambassador to Indonesia Nikolaos van Dam, for delivering a “pro-Islam speech” in Jakarta.

“While speaking to an audience at the Institute for Quranic [sic] Studies in Jakarta, Mr. van Dam acted as an advocate of Islam, rather than a representative of the Netherlands,” said the firebrand Freedom Party chairman, in a press release available at

“In doing this, he has lost all credibility. Instead of trying to defend Islam, Mr. van Dam should be defending universal human rights and be committed to improving the situation of the Christian minority in Indonesia.”

The ambassador gave a lecture entitled “The Global Political Trend and the Role of Islam: The Academic Responsibility of Muslim Scholars” during a graduation ceremony at the Institute for Koranic Studies, or PTIQ, at the Jakarta Convention Center on April 29.

Part of the speech was published in The Jakarta Post’s opinion page on May 1.

Wilders and party colleague Barry Madlener had sent written questions – available in Dutch on the Freedom Party website – to Dutch Foreign Minister Maxim Verhagen demanding van Dam’s resignation.

They questioned the ambassador’s attendance at the graduation ceremony, saying he should instead have worked to push the Indonesian government to improve the condition of non-Muslims in the predominantly Muslim country.

They also criticized van Dam for referring to Turkey as a European country. In his speech, the ambassador said, “Turkey is seen by some as the crossroads between Europe and Asia, between the Christian and Muslim world.”

A Dutch Embassy official in Jakarta said the Dutch foreign minister, not the ambassador, according to Dutch parliamentary procedure, would respond to Wilders’s questions.

Van Dam, a former lecturer in Middle Eastern history at Amsterdam University, speaks fluent Arabic and Indonesian, and spent most of his diplomatic career in Baghdad, Ankara, Cairo and Germany before coming to Jakarta.

He has built a good relationship with moderate Indonesian Muslim leaders and managed to tone down the resentment of Muslims here over Wilders’s film Fitna.

Noted Muslim scholar Azyumardi Azra praised van Dam for significantly improving diplomatic relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands, suggesting the Dutch government pay no heed to Wilders’s demand.

“I think he is the most successful Dutch ambassador to Indonesia,” he said, acknowledging van Dam’s understanding of Islam and its adherents.

The PTIQ is a higher educational institute under the supervision of the ministries of national education and religious affairs. It was set up by the late Indonesian tycoon Ibnu Sutowo and is currently led by progressive Muslim thinker Nasaruddin Umar, who campaigned for gender equality in Islam.

Azra said he was not surprised by Wilders’s statement, adding, “He’s a Dutch anti-Islam politician, but he does not represent his country as a whole.”

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