- Clip from slain Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh’s anti-Islam short film Submission: Part 1 to be aired on Italian television’s current affairs show Punto e a capo. Freedom of expression or anti-Muslim bigotry?
Segment from slain filmmaker Theo van Gogh’s controversial anti-Islam short Submission to be aired on Italian television
A segment from Submission: Part 1, slain Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh’s 11-minute film condemning Islam’s treatment of women, is scheduled to be aired on Italy’s state-run Rai Due channel on Thursday night, May 2, on the current affairs show Punto e a capo (lit. “Period and back to the top”). (Pictured: Theo van Gogh.)
Written by van Gogh and Somali-born anti-Islam activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Submission (there’s no “part 2”) consists of a series of images of a woman – representing four fictional female characters – wearing a see-through burka, her body covered with words from the Koran.
The short was shown on Dutch television last year and is believed to have been the cause for van Gogh’s murder at the hands of a Muslim fanatic last November.
According to the BBC, politicians from the leading Italian parties have urged Rai Due to show Submission in full so as to combat intolerance and support artistic freedom. The station, however, says it hasn’t acquired the rights to the film.
Critics of the broadcast claim that the Northern League, an anti-immigrant and fervently anti-Muslim far-right party, is behind the move to broadcast the controversial short.
Italian politicians’ ‘artistic freedom’
Unsurprisingly, Rai and right-wing Italian politicians didn’t seem all that eager to support artistic freedom when in late 2003 Rai’s executives axed Sabina Guzzanti’s satirical show RAIot for ridiculing right-wing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Nor have those leaders been all that willing to combat intolerance, as the Italian far right has made a point of invoking a dusty old law with the intent of forbidding Muslim women from wearing head coverings in public.
‘Schematizations and generalizations’
Regarding Submission: Part 1, Muslim historian Khaled Fouad Allam argued in the Roman daily La Repubblica that censorship of a motion picture is not the issue at hand, insisting that the actual problem is the depiction of “the Muslim danger through the construction of a simplistic picture and the reduction of that civilization to a series of schematizations and generalizations leading popular world opinion to a growing hostility in the confrontation against Muslims.”
Clips of Submission have already been shown by two state-run television stations in Denmark, angering Muslim communities in that country. And earlier this year, van Gogh and Hirsi Ali’s short was withdrawn from the Rotterdam Film Festival due to security concerns.
Italian Muslim leaders fear that the Submission broadcast will heighten tensions and help the cause of Islamic fanatics.
“Anti-Islam Short Submission” endnotes
Theo van Gogh image: Thomas Kist | Column Film, via Wikipedia.
“Italian TV to Show Clip from Anti-Islam Short Submission” last updated in September 2021.