The Netherlands is also famous for its laissez faire attitude towards moral issues Americans take seriously like drug use, prostitution, euthanasia. So I was disturbed to have the Netherlands pop up recently on my 'freedom of speech' watch-list.
In synopsis, a supreme court has just ruled that a Dutch politician may be prosecuted criminally. Not for trying to sell a parliament seat. Nor hiding bribe money in a freezer. Nor indulging in inappropriate conduct with interns.
FITNA: "This 15-minute film, which drew millions of viewers since its release Thursday, contains footage of Muslim clerics and protesters calling for the slaying of Jews, verses from the Koran, videos from scenes of suicide bombings and executions, illustrations of the demographic increase in the number of European Muslims and archive material from the Dutch media about Islamic terrorism-related incidents."
Is anyone as concerned as I am by this ruling in a Western democratic nation? When was the last time questioning the tenets of Christianity was made a criminal offense? Oh, yes, something called the Inquisition. And why has not our media, so protective of its rights, jumped to speak out at this erosion of freedom of speech? The abridgement of public debate or criticism on any topic should have every human rights activist across the free world on their feet.
If I am passionate about freedom of speech, it is because I have seen firsthand the consequences of its denial. I grew up in Latin America at a time when too many who spoke up against oppressive regimes became one more 'desaparecido' or 'disappeared one'. In Afghanistan, where I traveled recently, a 23-year-old journalist in prison for downloading an internet article, has been joined by two other journalists who translated the Koran into local Dari vernacular.
Among them more than 50,000 Christians burned out of churches and homes this past year in Orissa, India. I have shared in earlier blog entries about the refugee camps our own ministry organization, BCM International, established on the Orissa border to shelter the 62 pastors [see group picture; faces blurred for security] and their families of our own Orissa churches, all of whom had lost home and church to Hindu extremist mobs.
"It is worthy to praise the work of our BCM pastors during this tough time of hazardness. Pastor Tuna of Bataguda boldly went to their village and gathered the scattered out believers from different places of the area and started worship service in his church in spite of dreadful fear. He encouraged to others that they are serving the living God. He said to others that we are already dead in Christ, no need to fear any more to anyone. If they die, they die for Christ and their eternal place is heaven. This very thin and short BCM pastor shows a strong faith, and looking to his braveness, other pastors also have been taken the steps, among them Pastor Bimalraj and Pastor Lubara Mallik. Pray for these
pastors who could be the example for others."