Dutch find anti-Islam film less provocative than expected
Dutch politicians, opinion leaders and the public feel the anti-Islam film made by Dutch legislator Geert Wilders is much less provocative than expected.28 March 2008
AMSTERDAM - Dutch politicians, opinion leaders and the public feel the anti-Islam film made by Dutch legislator Geert Wilders is much less provocative than expected.
The leader of the Dutch Freedom Party posted on the internet his film, Fitna, which features passages from the Koran, speeches by extremist Islamic preachers and violent images.
The release of the film on www.liveleak.com followed months of frantic speculation in the Dutch media and by politicians about the contents of the film.
It was thought the film would devastate Dutch business abroad and endanger the lives of Dutch nationals internationally.
Speaking on behalf of the government, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende distanced himself from the film and said the government regretted that it had been made.
Mark Rutte, leader of the Dutch Liberal VVD party - of which Geert Wilders himself was a member until being thrown out in September 2004 - said the film "did not contain any new images."
"The Netherlands does not need Wilders as a filmmaker. We need Wilders as a legislator, to debate about the Netherlands and to find solutions for serious problems, including the problems of integration and immigration."
Minister of Integration Ella Vogelaar (Labour) said the film could increase people's fears of Islamic radicalism.
"The first half of the film contained shocking material," she said.
Muslim organisations have not yet released an official statement, but various Muslims appearing in the Dutch media Thursday evening and Friday morning reacted relatively mildly towards the film.
Iranian-born Afshin Ellian, a professor in the philosophy of law affiliated with the universities of Leiden and Amsterdam, said Geert Wilders "must have been advised by the best mullahs."
"Wilders stayed perfectly within the realm of what sharia or Muslim law permits. No images of Mohammed or Allah, and no material that may be blasphemous to Muslims."
Meanwhile, the Dutch public prosecutor's office said it would investigate whether the film complied with Dutch law and did not violate the prohibition on discrimination.
Gerard Spong, one of the Netherlands' most skilled attorneys specialised in criminal law, said it was impossible to predict whether or not the film would be found to violate Dutch law.
Late 2007, Spong filed a complaint on behalf of Muslim youth organisations and several private people who felt that Wilders had violated anti-discrimination legislation.
His initiative came after Wilders had publicly called for a ban on the Koran, calling the Muslim holy scripture "a fascist book."
[Copyright dpa 2008]