Wilders’ film: stay alert, says prime minister

Although initial reactions to the long-awaited anti-Koran film by right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders have been calm, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende issued a warning on Friday afternoon that there was ‘reason to remain alert’.

Speaking immediately after the release of the film on Thursday evening, Balkenende said the cabinet regrets the showing of the short film whose only aim is ‘to upset people’s feelings’.
The EU however is more outspoken in its criticism, reports ANP news service. In a statement on Friday afternoon, Slovenia which is currently the EU president said the film’s only purpose is to ‘incite hatred’. The EU stands ‘fully’ behind the Dutch government, it adds.
Dutch legal exports have concluded that Fitna does not go as far as inciting hatred and as such is within legal boundaries.
This view is shared by Brahim Bourzik, spokesman for the national council of Moroccans who told news agency ANP that he is ‘extremely relieved’ after having seen the film. ‘The worries that I and Dutch society had about riots and the like have been reduced considerably,’ Bourzik said.
However, Muslims at seven mosques in the southern city of Eindhoven are preparing to lodge a collective complaint against Wilders on the grounds that he is encouraging hatred. ‘Freedom of expression is a right… but it is not an excuse to upset fellow human beings,’ they said in a statement.
Earlier Iran condemned Fitna as ‘horrible’ and ‘blasphemous’. A spokesman from the Irani foreign affairs department warned repercussions could follow but did not give details.
Pakistan called on the Dutch government to take legal steps against Wilders.
But most of the Arab media have responded mildly to the film reporting that the Dutch government does not share Wilders’ negative view of Islam.
And a spokesman for the Dutch troops in Afghanistan told BNR radio that there have not been any reactions to the film in the region although security would be stepped up.
For more on the film’s contents, click here
For more reactions, click here
For background on Wilders, visit NRC Handelsblad’s special English-language site

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