Film by Dutch Islam critic released Thursday evening
The film Fitna - critical of the Koran and made by controversial parliament member Geert Wilders, one of the Netherlands' most outspoken Islam critics - was posted on the internet Thursday.
28 March 2008
AMSTERDAM - The film Fitna - critical of the Koran and made by controversial parliament member Geert Wilders, one of the Netherlands' most outspoken Islam critics - was posted on the internet Thursday.
Two hours after its release, more than 1 million Dutch nationals had watched the film, while some 800,000 people abroad had watched the movie.
On the website of Dutch commercial broadcaster RTL4 News, some 1,700 people participated in a poll about Fitna. Asked whether it is "good" that Wilders had made the film, 66 percent of the participants in the poll approved the film being released.
A total of 65 percent agreed with Wilders' opinion expressed in the movie.
On the RTL internet debate forum, one person wrote that the film was "fake" and accused Wilders of having "made the Dutch fear World War III is coming soon." Several other participants supported him.
Shortly after Wilders' Freedom Party announced on its website that the long-anticipated, 16-minute film had been posted on the internet Thursday evening, Wilders defended the decision.
The film, he said, was directed against radical Islam and what he called the "Islamisation of the Netherlands," and was not intended to be directed against Muslims.
Wilders said he planned to travel around the Netherlands to talk with the Dutch public - including Muslims - about his ideas expressed in the film.
"I am not against Muslims. I am against the ideology of the Islam," he said. "I think we in the West need to talk about how we will safeguard our freedom in the face of Muslim immigration and radical Islam."
The Dutch government, which was expected to release an official statement, had already formally distanced itself from the film and expressed concern that Dutch people and businesses might be at risk abroad.
Citing freedom of expression, the Dutch government said it would not undertake steps to prohibit the movie unless it was proven Wilders violated Dutch law.
The film, accompanied by the dramatic music "Asa's Death," part of the Peer Gynt Suite by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg in 1875, 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 Center towers on 11 September 2001, and the London Underground on 7 July 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 justification 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."
Although the film contains many shocking and cruel images, Dutch Islam experts say the film does not contain anti-Islamic provocations.
"The film does not contain pictures that are blasphemous or offensive for Muslims," says Maurits Berger, professor of modern Islam at Leiden University.
About the Koran verses used, Arabic world specialist Hans Jansen, affiliated with the University of Utrecht, said that Wilders used "well-known passages, which most Muslims know."
Wilders, whose opposition Freedom Party holds nine seats in the Dutch Parliament, had said before the film was launched that it would demonstrate why the Koran is a "fascist" book that incites people to violence.
In November, Wilders confirmed rumours that he was producing a film about the Koran. The film has since captured Dutch headlines and sparked heated debates.
The website of Wilders' Freedom Party said the film could be viewed at
[Copyright dpa 2008]