European Union leaders have expressed their tacit solidarity with the Netherlands over possible anti-Dutch violence arising from Geert Wilder’s film, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende told reporters on Thursday night.
Balkenende used the EU summit dinner to outline the Netherlands’ position on the film, which is said to portray the Koran as a fascist book which incites violence.
While no other EU leaders made a public comment, many gave sympathetic looks, the Dutch prime minister said. ‘I said it was important that we could count on their support and solidarity and no-one spoke out against that,’ he was quoted as saying by news agency ANP.
France and Denmark have already made public shows of support for the Dutch decision not to ban the film because a ban would contradict the right to free speech. Britain, Spain, Austria and Hungary have also given their backing, ANP said.
The Telegraaf reports on Friday that EU socialist party leaders, including Denmark’s former prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, were irritated that Balkenende raised the issue during the formal diner.
‘We must not raise these sort of national issues at EU summits, Rasmussen was quoted as saying, adding that ‘freedom of speech is not meant to be used to insult others.’
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