Dutch anti-Islam film meets with heavy criticism

March 28th, 2008 - 10:14 pm ICT by admin  

The Hague, March 28 (DPA) Criticism at home and abroad of Dutch opposition lawmaker Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam film grew Friday after Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende appeared on television to distance the government from the film. Balkenende spoke shortly after the film, Fitna - in which Wilders draws links between terrorist acts by Muslim extremists and the words of the Koran - was posted on the www.liveleak.com website Thursday evening.

In the run-up to the film’s release, Wilders had described the Koran as a “fascist book” that incites people to violence.

The prime minister told reporters during a press conference that the Dutch government regretted the fact that Wilders had decided to release the film, even though the government had asked him to refrain from making it public.

The European Union condemned the film. “We believe that acts, such as the above-mentioned film, serve no other purpose than inflaming hatred,” a statement from the Slovenian EU presidency said Friday.

“The European Union and its member states apply the principle of the freedom of speech which is part of our values and traditions. “However, it should be exercised in a spirit of respect for religious and other beliefs and convictions.”

Reaction from Muslim countries was swift. Tehran warned of the “consequences of such a provocative move,” as Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini termed the video “insulting and anti-Islamic” and symbolic of the “deep antagonism” of some Western states towards Islam and Muslims.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kristiarto Legowo said the contents of the film were “misleading and full of racism” and called the production of the film an “irresponsible action done under the blanket of freedom of the press.”

Pakistan summoned the Dutch ambassador to condemn “the defamatory film which deeply offended the sentiments of Muslims all over the world and which was expected to result in expressions of strong abhorrence and outrage.”

Fitna, which means the split between believers and infidels, is accompanied by the dramatic music Asa’s Death, part of the Peer Gynt Suite by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg in 1875 and is a compilation of Koran verses and old video footage.

The Koran verses are primarily sections interpreted as calling on Muslims to attack and destroy enemies of the faith.

It also shows the attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre towers Sep 11, 2001, and the London Underground July 7, 2005, and video footage of Muslim terrorists executing Western hostages.

The film suggests that violent passages from the Koran are directly used by Muslims as legitimization to commit violence and will ultimately endanger Western democratic and liberal values.

The film ends by calling on the audience to do everything possible to counter what Wilders calls “the danger of the Islamisation of the Netherlands”.

Meanwhile, the Dutch public prosecutor’s office said it would investigate whether the film violated anti-discrimination legislation.

A Danish newspaper cartoonist criticized the “misuse” of his controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed in Wilders’ film.

“My cartoon has been misused again. It has been pulled from its original context and set in a completely different one,” cartoonist Kurt Westergaard told Danish broadcaster DR.

“Wilders has not asked me for permission, so it is simply a case of violation of copyright rules,” Westergaard said, adding he would contact legal experts Friday.

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