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A Saudi Arabian Muslim has decided that the cure for too much free speech is more free speech. The man is unhappy about what some see as an attack on Islam. It came from Europe, where the Netherlands is, among many countries, absorbing a lot of Muslim immigrants.
Dutch politician Geert Wilders put out a video that matches up verses from the Koran with scenes of suicide bombings. Now comes a response - not a protest or a riot, not this time. A Saudi businessman put out a video of his own. Reporter Carol Murphy sent this report from the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
CAROL MURPHY: Raed al-Saeed likes to wear jeans, T-shirts and a headset to his cell phone tucked in his ear. He runs his audio-visual company out of a rundown villa on a quiet tree-lined street in Riyadh. Sitting at his cluttered desk, he remembers his reaction to "Fitna."
Mr. RAID AL-SAEED (Owner, Audio-Visual Company): Well, as I watching a movie, I felt, like, helpless. I couldn't do anything about it. Okay. What can I do to answer Fitna? To protect my religion? To protect my life, to what I believe in? Then I thought about I'll do my best. At least I will not feel that I didn't do anything. I'll do my best, and my best was try to make a movie.
MURPHY: A part-time blogger, Saeed decided to use the same technique Wilders used in Fitna. He took verses from the Bible and matched them with scenes of aggressive behavior by Christians. His point was to demonstrate that you can make almost any religion look bad.
Mr. SAEED: It's not the right way to judge a religion by a video made by guy who hates that religion. So, anybody can do that. Anybody can take any holy book, even the most peaceful holy book known in the world - the Holy Bible -can be taken out of context and making it look, sound evil.
MURPHY: Saeed called his film "Schism." It opens with biblical quotes, including one from the book of Samuel urging the destruction of everything that belongs to Amalekites. Do not spare them, it says. Put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.
His six-minute video then has footage that he got off the Internet. One scene shows what appear to be Western soldiers in Iraq beating up alleged Iraqi insurgents. Another clip is a CNN broadcast of "Shock and Awe," the 2003 aerial bombardment of Baghdad that opened the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
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MURPHY: A day after posting his video on YouTube, it was taken down for having inappropriate content. Saeed immediately reposted it with a message, saying that if it is inappropriate, Wilder's "Fitna" should also be taken down. For now, both videos are still available at the site. And until recently, "Schism" had been viewed more than 230,000 times.
Saeed says he's been gratified by the response, noting that many comments about it on YouTube were positive. Several Dutch viewers thanked him, adding that the disapproved of "Fitna."
Mr. SAEED: I think that's only that me, as people who do like me, they're supporting (unintelligible) closing the gap. We are actually better than (unintelligible). We are serving our religion, the world, better than what bin Laden did.
MURPHY: Saeed said that most viewers understood that he was making a statement about how religions are judged rather than defaming Christianity.
Mr. SAEED: It's not my goal to attack Christians. I wouldn't attack a religion made by a prophet that I believe in.
MURPHY: And he believes he's well qualified to make his video. In November 2003, Saeed was at a residential compound in Riyadh when terrorists attacked with guns and a suicide car bomb. Seventeen persons, including five children, were killed, and more than 100 injured.
Saeed was not physically hurt, but the experience deeply affected him.
Mr. SAEED: First of all, this attack has been done on a compound hosting FBI and CIA and a builder and all the neighbors and everybody there. There is a mosque in there. They pray there five times a day. And no one was in there. And so after that, I wasn't sure, am I going to (unintelligible) action? Because after that, like, I started to fight this kind of action and be there. So, and it wasn't a good experience.
MURPHY: Having survived the horrific attack, Saeed is fond of saying that he now has a new birth day. And following the Arabic practice of putting the day first and then the month, he notes the irony of his new birth date.
Mr. SAEED: It's 9/11/2003.
MURPHY: For NPR News, this is Carol Murphy in Riyadh.
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