Now it’s Ehsan Jami‘s turn. After Fitna, from right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders, and Submission, by former Dutch-Somali MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Theo van Gogh, now the young Iranian-born Dutchman Ehsan Jami has made a film about Islam.
‘An Interview with Mohammed’ is less confrontational than its predecessors. The 15-minute film shows Mr Jami interviewing the prophet Muhammed, played by an actor wearing a Bedouin headdress, his face covered by a paper mask.
The two discuss various aspects of Muhammed’s life. By way of a relaxed, contemporary news interview, the film creates a more modern, free-thinking version of the Muslim prophet.
Ehsan Jami says he made the film to spark a debate within Islam itself.
“Muslims should interpret the deeds of Muhammed differently, that’s what I hope, that’s what I try to do. The realisation has to come with their conscience, with a reformation.”
A call for Islamic reformation. But is Mr Jami a credible figure to be making such a call? He made a name for himself a year ago when he presented his Committee for Ex-Muslims. At that time, he harshly criticized his former religion, going so far as to compare Muhammed with Hitler.
In the meantime, he has changed course.
An Interview with Muhammed is much more moderate than the statements Ehsan Jami made last year. And a far cry from Submission, Fitna, or the cartoon film about the prophet, Jami originally planned to make.
Jami now says he doesn’t just want to name the problem. He wants to offer a solution. But why should Muslims listen to an avowed apostate?
“Why not? Because there’s no one else who’s doing it. I’m the only one, there are a few of us actually doing anything. I’m hoping more Muslims in Holland, native or not, stand up and fight for it, and fight for what we really believe in, for our civilisation, our culture, our human rights.”
In a reaction to the film, Dutch Muslim organisations released a statement calling it a “tepid piece of fluff”. The six organisations called off a press conference planned to comment on the film. They said the content of the film did not warrant the effort.
Ehsan Jami remains a confrontational figure. Regardless of the maker’s intentions, An Interview with Muhammed is destined to offend the very people he would like to reach.