Monday, April 7, 2008

Salah Edin vs. Geert Wilders

(Mohammed Bouyeri, photo:

(Salah Edin, photo:

An intriguing sidelight to the ongoing Geert Wilders / Fitna story:

In the "initial release" of Fitna last month, Wilders included a number of images and multimedia clips that apparently he didn't have the rights to, including one of the famous Danish cartoons that caused riots two years ago.

Wilders apologized to the cartoonist, who accepted his apology, and Wilders has since replaced the cartoon. However, he won't settle a second case quite so easily.

He included _ he says by accident _ a photo of a Dutch rapper, Salah Edin in the film. Edin is incorrectly identified as "Mohammed B.," a.k.a. Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of Theo van Gogh.

On its face that's libelous _ but there's a twist.

Salah Edin, who attempts to project an image as a serious hiphop artist challenging racism in Holland, had taken a photo of himself done up as much as possible to resemble the most famous known picture of Bouyeri. He used it on the cover of his album "The Netherlands' Greatest Nightmare."

the fact that Edin was trying to look like Bouyeri doesn't lessen his copyright on the photo, or force him to allow it to be put to use for propaganda purposes by Wilders. But it does make it easier to understand how Wilders could have made the mistake.

It also raises the question of how much damage the mix-up could have done to Edin's reputation, if he was consciously trying to resemble Bouyeri.

He wants EUR25,000 in compensation, peanuts in the U.S. but it would be an unusually large award in Holland.

According to De Telegraaf newspaper, at a hearing Monday Wilders' lawyer Patrice Katz mocked Edin for pretending to be a "goody two-shoes" when he projects a violent image.

After the photo incident, Edin told De Pers newspaper that Wilders 'doesn't deserve a bullet in the head, but two in his knees would be a good start.' (paraphrased).

Edin's lawyer said that "Edin's face is now remembered by millions of people as that of the murderer of Theo van Gogh."

Wilders has removed the photo from the updated version of the film and is "in talks" on sending a correction to newspapers and press agencies.

If I were Wilders, I would just pay.

Assuming I had EUR25K, that is...

Verdict is due April 17.

Full article in Dutch:

Article in Dutch

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