Pressure is mounting on anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders to drop plans to broadcast his anti-Koran film because of the economic and security damage it could cause to the Netherlands.
On Thursday night, Christian Democrat parliamentary leader Pieter van Geel urged Wilders not to proceed. ‘This is nothing to do with freedom of expression but with the responsibility he must take for the possible consequences for the safety of Dutch citizens and our economy,’ Van Geel said.
Foreign minister Maxime Verhagen told NOS news that broadcasting the 15-minute feature would be irresponsible. On Wednesday Verhagen and justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin spent an hour with Wilders trying to persuade him to drop the project.
But Labour, Liberal, Socialist and GroenLinks MPs said they did not support the CDA call. The right to freedom of expression was paramount, the MPs were reported as saying, while stressing that Wilders should be responsible in exercising this right.
Liberal leader Mark Rutte told reporters he expected politicians would contributed to solving problems, not making them worse. Labour spokesman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said he sympathised with the CDA position. ‘The threats are real and we should pay attention to them,’ he said. ‘But at the moment, the government should be making appeals to the countries where there is unease.’
News website Nu.nl reports that Wilders is furious at the lack of support from fellow MPs. ‘I had expected that (prime minister) Jan Peter Balkenende would condemn Al-Qaida’s call but he is doing absolutely nothing,’ Wilders told the website.
On Wednesday the Telegraaf reported that an Al-Qaida-related website called for jihad against the Dutch MP, a threat confirmed by the Dutch anti-terrorism command.
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