Friday, March 28, 2008

FITNA OUT? REALLY!

17 hours after Fitna was put on the internet, Dutch citizens in Lebanon received around 25 minutes ago the following message from the Dutch embassy(in Dutch):

"Attentie: Film van Wilders op internet verschenen. Voor nadere info zie website ambassade www.netherlandsembassy.org.lb. In noodgeval is ambassade 24 uur bereikbaar op (volgt tel nr). Afz: Nederlandse ambassade."

Harald Doornbos

WILDERS AND FITNA MOVIE MENTIONED IN FRIDAY PRAYER LEBANON

My assistant just spoke to an important and moderate sunni cleric, mullah Mustafa Malas, of the Menyah mosque north of Tripoli (Lebanon). He send her this part of the speech he will give today during Friday prayer:

"Criticisms and provocations, of known objectives and intentions, against Islam won’t be able to distort the image of the religion. These attacks are a result of ignorance and lack of awareness and are carried out by those seeking to attract attention and popularity in order to achieve financial and political gains.

Our reaction to the recent offense by the radical Dutch politician, Geert Wilders should be in further holding to the sunnah (path) of the prophet, commitment to Islam’s provisions and manners and behavior that pleases God, and in staying away from insults and foul language used by the provokers themselves."


Harald Doornbos

BREAKING NEWS: DUTCH AMBASSADOR TO LEBANON TO MEET MAIN SHI'ITE CLERIC ON FITNA MOVIE

The Dutch ambassador to Lebanon has asked the Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah (see pic), the main Shi'ite cleric in Lebanon, for a meeting on Monday.

The meeting is sceduled for Monday 10 o'clock.

This according to Hani al Abdullah, the spokesperson of Mr. Fadlallah.

"I assume it is about the Wilders movie," said Al Abdullah, on Friday.

Mr. Fadlallah is, for most Shi'ites in Lebanon, the most important scolar and religious leader in the country. Many of his critics though claim he belongs to Hezbollah (The Party of God). But I've interviewed Mr. Fadlallah once and he rigorously denied these claims.

Anyhow. Monday 10 o'clock - meeting between the Dutch ambassador and Mr. Fadlallah.
It's good to see the Dutch reaching out to Muslims.

By the way: The Dutch embassy in Beirut is OPEN today.

Harald Doornbos

AFTER FITNA...THE NO-SPONSE (YET) IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Until now, no dramatic response in the Middle East to Fitna, the Wilders movie. This of course because the movie - due to all the attention and pressure - wasn't that shocking. No Koran was burnt or torn. Wilders 'only' showed a - already known - Danish cartoon.

That said, Harryzzz is trying to give you the latest responses from the Middle East.

As I am currently in Amsterdam promoting a movie (The Hunting Party, NOT FITNA!!!!)I'm very often in touch with my charming assistant in Beirut, Lebanon. She has spoken - last night and this morning - to various relevant people. I've been talking to some people myself as well. Please read below the main developments, especially in Lebanon.

As long as my assistant in Beirut keeps interviewing people, I will update this blog all day from Amsterdam. So check on www.harryzzz.blogspot.com for the latest stories.

Harald Doornbos

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

HARRYZZZ IN HOLLAND...

Ok, not a lot of postings these days. I've travelled from Lebanon to Holland to promote the movie The Hunting Party. Am in Amsterdam now. Movie will be out in Holland on April 3rd.

A link to the movie website here.

Harald Doornbos

Friday, March 21, 2008

OH MY GOD, STILL NO FLAG IN BEIRUT!!! (UUUPS...IT IS GOOD FRIDAY...)

Utter shame! I do not have words to describe such injustice! This is probably worse than World War II! We are surrendering to Islamists....

Why? Well, because on Friday there is still NO Dutch flag flying in front of the Dutch embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. I just walked passed the embassy, so I should know.

This of course after - believe it or not - members of the Dutch parliament DEMANDED the flag to be raised again by embassy staff in Beirut. On Tuesday GPD newspapers and this blog were the first ones to report on the 'no flag embassy'.

Now Dutch nationalists are up in arms and going banana's about this, as they claim, "surrender to muslims". They want the flag to be raised immediately.

Good luck with that. Because the flag at the Dutch embassy in Beirut is not flying today because....(drie keer raden!!!!)....it is GOOD FRIDAY!

And here in Lebanon, A COUNTRY WHERE 70 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION IS MUSLIM, christian days like Good Friday and Easter are official holidays. Through the whole of Lebanon today schools are closed, offices closed and - surprise surprise - the Dutch embassy is closed.

Of course, those Dutch nationalists and muslim haters who would proudly like to fly the Dutch flag on the day Jesus Christ (according to one book at least) was crucified...go ahead. But don't be surprised if ARAB CHRISTIANS start storming the embassy.

Ufff...Difficult to live in a globalized world, isn't it?

Anyhow, flag fetishists have to wait until Tuesday when the embassy opens again.

Harald Doornbos

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NO FLAG AT DUTCH EMBASSY IN BEIRUT

Since a couple of days, The Dutch embassy in Beirut has stopped flying its flag. (See pic of two lonely flagpoles, full story at my company, GPD newspapers).

And just to avoid any confusion: The white flag on the picture is NOT flying from the embassy but from a nearby streetlight and it is NOT the Dutch one, but the flag of the Lebanese Forces, a christian political party in Lebanon.

Of course I called the embassy: No official response.

Then a phone call to the Ministry of Foreign affairs in The Hague, Holland.

Question: There's no flag in front of the embassy in Beirut?
Answer by spokeswoman: "This is because the embassy wants to keep a lower profile."

Q: Why?
A: "Well, this is up to any individual embassy."

Q: Ok, but why?
A: "As you probably know, the embassy was closed last week for two days."

Q: True.
A: "I want to make it very clear: It has nothing, and I repeat, nothing to do with the upcoming Wilders-movie."

Q: Nobody is going to believe that...
A: "But it is true. It really has nothing to do with Wilders but with Lebanon's internal situation."

So far the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs in The Hague. But harryzzz wanted to know if there were more Dutch embassies in the Middle East without flags.

So I made a few phone calls.

First, Damascus, Syria.

A friendly voice says: "I'll pass you on to the ambassador."
Ambassador, a very simple question: Is there a Dutch flag flying in front of your embassy?
Dutch ambassador to Syria: "Oh yes, flag is flying."
The Wilders movie might come out soon, what do you expect?
"I thought you only wanted to ask a question about the flag?"
Yes, that is true. Thank you.
"No problem."

Then the Dutch embassy in Tehran, Iran:

Press office please...
Some Dutch employee: "If the flag is flying? I can not say anything about this."
But if you look outside, do you see a flag?
"I can not answer that question. Only the ministry in The Hague can."

Last but for sure not least, the Dutch embassy in Pakistan.

"Hello, here Islamabad."
Flag or no flag?
Friendly staff member: "I'm working at the backside of the building. Can't see it."
Oh...
"Wait...just walked to the front. I can say that the Chancellery is flying the flag."

That leaves Denmark the only other country not flying a flag from their Beirut embassy. Remember the cartoon-rage? Well, in February 2006 the Danish consulate here was attacked and partly burnt down by a mob. Since then the Danish consulate was upgraded to an embassy while they have moved it to another location (close to Place Sassine). If you don't know exactly where it is, you'll have difficulties finding it, because - indeed - there's no flag flying outside.

Harald Doornbos

Saturday, March 15, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: RELEASE OF WILDERS MOVIE IMMINENT

I might be wrong of course (but I don't think so), but sources tell this blog: The release of the Wilders movie Fitna is imminent.

Wilders, you silly man, may the force have mercy on you and all the people who are going to die because of this movie...

Anyhow...you can imagine that Harryzzz - being a Dutchman in the Middle East - is getting a little nervous...

Best-case scenario: Youtube will be blocked in many muslim countries.

Worst-case scenario: Demonstrations all over the world, many Dutch embassies in the Middle East burnt down. To name a few: Beirut, Damascus, Tehran, Islamabad, Kabul...

We'll see the next couple of days....

As I'm here in Beirut, I'll try to keep everybody informed (and not get lynched).

Harald Doornbos

Friday, March 14, 2008

HUGE DEMONSTRATION IN BEIRUT...UHHHH...NOT

Remember the reason given by the Dutch authorities in The Hague as to why the Dutch embassy in Beirut is/was closed yesterday and today?

According to the Ministry of Foreign affairs in The Hague, quoted by the ANP news agency on Wednesday: "Demonstrations are expected [in Lebanon] and that is the reason we have decided to close the embassy."

Demonstrations...really?

Here a picture I made today of this giant demonstration, on Friday in down-town Beirut. This is the place where demonstrators in Lebanon normally gather. You see anybody or anything, except for parked cars???Frankly - on Thursday and Friday there were NO demonstrations reported in Beirut. Down-town Beirut is today entirely normal. Not a single demonstrator.

I am sure the Ministry in Holland on Wednesday wasn't lying, but did they tell the truth? Well, that is another question...

Harald Doornbos

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: DUTCH CLOSE BEIRUT EMBASSY (including update)

The Dutch authorities have decided to close the Dutch embassy in Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday and Friday.

On Wednesday evening, embassy staff has informed all Dutch citizens in Lebanon about the decision via SMS.

The message reads: "The Dutch embassy will be closed on March 13th and 14th due to safety reasons".

Authorities have not specified these "safety reasons".

There are two possibilities. Either the whole thing has something to do with the upcoming Wilders-movie. Or with the Hariri-tribunal, which will start this year in the Dutch city of The Hague.

Personally I think it has more to do with the Hariri-tribunal than with the movie. I mean, the Wilders-movie is not out yet. And for now, I know, shiite Hezbollah is not planning anything against the Dutch because of the movie. Also, Sunni radicals from Lebanon's north aren't organizing Wilders-related protests yet.

But certain pro-Syrian groups in Lebanon have made it very clear that the tribunal is not being appreciated. Targeting the Dutch would be a clear message to the tribunal.

Also this: 14th of March is the name of the pro-government, anti-Syrian ruling coalition in Lebanon. It was named after a huge demonstration, on March 14th 2005, which lead to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

The date 14th of March is, since 2005, a - so called - sensitive date here in Lebanon. Man, I just took a spin in my car through Beirut by night and my god, there are soooo many army- and police checkpoints...just not funny any more. It takes ages to get anywhere. The authorities here, it seems, suspect pro-Syrian groups to launch bomb attacks against pro-government targets on or around the 14th of March.

It is all speculation of course (nobody wants to confirm the real reason for the closure of the embassy) but logical thinking tells me its because of the tribunal, not the Wilders-movie.

That said: Next week or so, after the movie is out...expect huge trouble here. With threats against the embassy, possible riots an a possible economic boycott - difficult time in Lebanon for Dutchies and Dutch cheese...

Additional: OK, FOUND OUT THE REAL REASON - A MIXTURE OF LEBANON'S INTERNAL SITUATION AND THE WILDERS MOVIE:

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Holland, the embassy in Beirut will be closed because of "expected demonstrations on Friday in Beirut."

That is an interesting reason, because the demonstrators on Friday will be supporters of the murdered Hariri. These people are pro-Lebanese government, pro-Hariri-tribunal and anti-Syrian. So, at a first glance, the Dutch have nothing to fear from these people.

But, and this is the crucial thing, the demonstrators on Friday will be mainly SUNNI MUSLIMS. When the Danish embassy was burnt down here (around two years ago), it was basically done by Sunni Muslims, not Shiite's.

So the Dutch authorities in Beirut, according to Lebanese sources, are at the moment very wary of large groups of Sunni Muslims. Although the initial demonstration might be pro-Hariri (and in a way pro-Holland, because the protesters want the Hariri-tribunal in The Hague to take place), parts of the demo might suddenly turn anti-Wilders and - possibly - include a storming of the Dutch embassy.


Harald Doornbos

Sunday, March 09, 2008

In Tehran, an unexpected 'cartoon' of the prophet Muhammad

I've posted this story on harryzzz already last year July. But as the world keeps on talking about the Danish cartoons and the Wilders movie, it would not hurt to check this story out again. (I've added a couple of new lines and click on pictures to enlarge.):

(...) As most of us know by now: It is forbidden in Islamic countries to depict the prophet Muhammad – let alone depict him in an insulting way. Depicting a person, especially the prophet, could lead to worshipping. This is absolutely forbidden in the strictly monotheistic religion of Islam. In other words: You may only worship God (Allah), not anybody else, not even the prophet Muhammad.

But here comes the rather less predictable part of the story.

Some time ago I visited Iran and walked through the capital Tehran and decided to visit the Museum of the Islamic Period, one of the largest museums in town. Located in a beautiful building in the center of Tehran, I went up the stairs and started my tour. On floor one, in front of one of the first pieces of the exhibition, I immediately stopped. Looking at a picture, behind glass, I was flabbergasted. Because, believe it or not, I stood face to face with a picture of the prophet Muhammad.

Hanging on the wall in front of me was a painting of a male person wearing a green scarf and a black beard, some Koranic texts and beautifully made decorations. Under it, in Farsi and in English, the museum had put a little sign. It read: AN ICON OF THE PROPHET (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him), Signed by Sani'Al-Molk, 19th Century A.D.

After about five minutes, I walked up to the front desk of the museum.

"I thought this was forbidden," I asked to a friendly girl, pointing in the direction of the icon of the prophet.

"Well," she said, "If it is done in a respectful way, you may depict the prophet."

But almost every Muslim I talk to, I continued, claims it is strictly forbidden in Islam to depict the prophet - respectfully or disrespectfully.

She shook her head and said: "A lot of people here are kind of ignorant on this topic. I was highly surprised by all these world wide protests, because I see this icon of the prophet every day."

"Still," she said, "There is a huge difference in depicting the prophet as some kind of terrorist or depicting him the way this painter has done. This is just a very beautiful icon, nobody can have anything against it."

Don't tell that to the Wahhabi's in Saudi Arabia - I said. And again, she - a Shi'a Muslim - smiled. "You're probably right," she said.

Harald Doornbos

Friday, March 07, 2008

NOG VREEMDERE WENDING: DEFENSIEMEDEWERKER ZETTE PER ONGELUK HELICOPTER FILMPJE OP DVD

Eergisteren hadden we de volgende wending: Er staat een filmpje op het internet (liveleak and youtube) van een Nederlandse helicopterbemanning die vermoedelijke Taliban beschiet. Het is overduidelijk een prive-filmpje. Ik bel ministerie van Defensie op en vraag om uitleg. "Dit is vervelend," zegt Defensie, die hier niet van op de hoogte lijkt, "We gaan uitzoeken hoe dat op het internet is beland."

Gisteren kreeg het verhaal een vreemde wending, toen bleek dat een Nederlandse journalist, Joris Janssen Lok van het blad Aviation Week, het filmpje op het internet had gezet.

Zijn, geparafraseerde, reactie tegenover me: "Waarom alle ophef? Want ik heb dit filmpje een maand geleden zelf van Defensie gekregen tijdens mijn bezoek aan Gilze-Rijen!"

Oke, lees vandaag dan hieronder de derde, laatste en wel zeer merkwaardige wending van een toch al merkwaardig verhaal:

Want nadat ik met meneer Lok had gesproken, heb ik natuurlijk opnieuw met Defensie gebeld en gevraagd hoe het nou eigenlijk precies zit. Wel, hou je vast:

Volgens een woordvoerder van Defensie is journalist Lok inderdaad op de vliegbasis Gilze-Rijen geweest.

Tijdens dat bezoek kreeg Lok ondermeer een interview met de commandant van de Nederlandse Apache-helicopter eenheid en een multi-media presentatie.

Defensie personeel heeft Lok tijdens een presentatie het gewraakte helicopter filmpje laten zien op een scherm. Dit filmpje mocht journalist Lok dus bekijken, niet meenemen.

Vervolgens kreeg Lok van Defensie een DVD voor mee naar huis met daarop een aantal reeds vrijgegeven militaire filmpjes.

Nu komt het echter...

"Een overijverige medewerker van Defensie heeft per ongeluk ook het filmpje van de Apache-helicopter in Afghanistan op de DVD gezet die aan Lok is gegeven," aldus een Defensie woordvoerder tegenover me.

Einde oefening, mysterie opgelost. Maar al met al wel knap knullig...

Lees twee eerdere postings (scroll naar beneden) voor meer details en hier nog een keer het bewuste filmpje:



Harald Doornbos

Thursday, March 06, 2008

VREEMDE WENDING: DEFENSIE GAF HELICOPTER VIDEO ZELF AAN JOURNALIST!

Lees eerst eventjes de vorige post, beneden...

Ok, klaar? Wel, dan wordt het nu allemaal een stukje merkwaardiger.

Ik heb net uitgezocht wie er achter de 'uitgelekte' beelden zit van de Nederlandse Apache-helicopter aanval op de Taliban in Afghanistan.

Het gaat hier om Joris Janssen Lok, een van de beste journalisten in Nederland op het gebied van militaire zaken. Hij is senior European editor bij Aviation Week. Ik heb net, telefonisch, met meneer Lok gesproken. En hij bevestigde tegenover me dat hij het bewuste filmpje op het internet heeft gezet. Of liever gezegd, via zijn opdrachtgever, Aviationweek.com.

In eerste instantie had ik zoiets: Ai - Da's niet zo slim van meneer Lok! Want Defensie verklaarde gisteren nog letterlijk tegenover me het volgende:

“Dit [de verschijning van het filmpje op het internet, hd] is vervelend,” aldus Defensiewoordvoerder Robin Middel in een reactie, “Niet omdat het de realiteit laat zien, maar omdat het context mist.” Middel zegt geen idee te hebben hoe de clip op het internet is beland en wie dat heeft gedaan.

“Kleine delen van de film zijn vorig jaar vrijgegen voor een compilatie op onze website,” aldus de woordvoerder, “Maar niet de hele clip.”

(...) “Deze beelden bevonden zich natuurlijk in beperkte kring,” aldus woordvoerder Middel, “We gaan er nu wel even naar kijken hoe zoiets plotseling op het internet is beland.”


Maar wat de heer Lok me zojuist vertelde, geeft het hele verhaal een vrij bizarre wending!

- Meneer Lok, hoe kwam u aan het filmpje?
Lok: "Wel, dat heb ik gekregen van Defensie."

- Wat???? Hetzelfde Defensie dat boos was omdat het filmpje is 'uitgelekt' op het internet?
Een verbaasde meneer Lok: "Ja, die clip heb ik gekregen tijdens een interview, een maand geleden, met de commandant van de Nederlandse Apache eenheid, [kolonel] Theo van Haaf, in Gilze-Rijen."

- En mocht u dat alleen maar voor u zelf houden of ook openbaar maken?
Lok: "Dat was specifiek bedoeld om op de website te zetten. Bedoeld als illustratie, als voorbeeld voor bij het interview."

- De clip heeft u dus gekregen van de Apache commandant?
Lok: "Het was een officieel interview. D'r was ook een voorlichter van het Ministerie van Defensie bij."

Merkwaardig allemaal. Hetzelfde ministerie dus dat gisteren nog tegen me zei dat ze gaan uitzoeken wie in vredesnaam die video heeft 'gelekt'. Ik ga Defensie maar weer bellen voor opheldering.

Hier een link naar het originele artikel en de video van Joris Janssen Lok.

Harald Doornbos

EXCLUSIEF: INSTRUCTIEFILM DEFENSIE BELANDT OP MYSTERIEUZE WIJZE OP INTERNET

Hier de tekst van een exclusief verhaal zoals ik dat gisteren heb geleverd voor mijn krant (GPD). Het staat vandaag in de GPD bladen:

Beelden van een Nederlandse gevechtshelicopter die Taliban strijders beschiet in Afghanistan zijn op mysterieuze wijze op het internet belandt.

Het 1.35 minuut durende filmpje, dat vanuit de Nederlandse Apache-helicopter is gedraaid, wordt normaliter gebruikt door Defensie voor instructiedoeleinden binnenshuis. Maar sinds afgelopen maandag, zo blijkt nu, valt het voor iedereen te zien op de website LiveLeak.com.

“Dit is vervelend,” aldus Defensiewoordvoerder Robin Middel in een reactie, “Niet omdat het de realiteit laat zien, maar omdat het context mist.” Middel zegt geen idee te hebben hoe de clip op het internet is beland en wie dat heeft gedaan.

“Kleine delen van de film zijn vorig jaar vrijgegen voor een compilatie op onze website,” aldus de woordvoerder, “Maar niet de hele clip.”

Het filmpje laat duidelijk zien en te horen hoe twee Nederlandse militairen vanuit een Apache helicopter contact hebben met een Amerikaanse- of Canadese eenheid op de grond.



“We worden onder vuur genomen,” aldus een Amerikaanse stem in het Engels. Hierop speurt de Nederlandse helicopter de bergachtige omgeving af op zoek naar de Taliban schutters. Nadat grondtroepen een veld en een huis hebben beschoten, vragen ze aan de helicopterbemanning of de Nederlanders “onze impacts zien”. De Nederlanders in de helicopter antwoorden bevestigend: “A-firm, we zien jullie impacts.” Daarop wordt het vizier nog verder ingezoemd waardoor nu heel duidelijk een huis zichtbaar is. Aangezien het inzoemen vrij chaotisch gebeurt, schreeuwt een bemanningslid naar een collega in het Nederlands: “Rustig aan Mark, rustig aan!”

Kort daarop openen de Nederlanders vanuit de helicopter het vuur op twee personen die in de deuropening staan van het huis. Een Nederlandse stem roept “uitdraaien, uitdraaien, uitdraaien!” waarna een ratelend machinegeweer weinig heel laat van een van de muren van de woning. In de laatste seconde van de clip valt nog te zien hoe tenminste twee vermoedelijke Talibanners in paniek wegrennen.

“Deze beelden bevonden zich natuurlijk in beperkte kring,” aldus woordvoerder Middel, “We gaan er nu wel even naar kijken hoe zoiets plotseling op het internet is beland.”

Harald Doornbos