Terror threat in the Netherlands 'substantial'
The risk of terror attacks in the Netherlands is thought to be high, despite the apparent quiet after the release of the anti-Qu'ran movie Fitna made by MP Geert Wilders.
The Netherlands' anti-terrorism czar, Tjibbe Joustra, says in an interview with newspaper de Volkskrant that a violent reaction to Fitna may still come:
"After all, the reaction to the Danish cartoons of the Prophet came months after they were published, and reactions flared up again earlier this year."
On the basis of public and secret information Mr Joustra's National Anti-terror Co-ordination Centre says that the threat level is 'substantial', which is just one level below the maximum.
One of the factors behind the high rating is that the Netherlands is often listed as a potential target by terror-fighting organisations in other countries. The provocative movie Fitna is to blame for that, Mr Joustra says.
Different from Denmark
That the release of Fitna in March 2008 did not create any upheaval in the Netherlands is due to the widespread discussion ahead of time of the right-wing nationalist MP Geert Wilders' film.
Muslims, who were targeted in that film, were involved in the Dutch debate even before it was released.
Mr Joustra contrasts the Dutch approach with the attitude in Denmark:
"Danish Muslims who were worried about the cartoons and wanted to talk about them, were not taken seriously. You can't just say 'well, we've got freedom of expression here' and leave it at that."
The Dutch government took an active part in explaining to everyone how freedom of expression works, and showed understanding for the pain felt by some people when others express their opinions. The Netherlands' anti-terrorism co-ordinator is convinced that this cautious and inclusive approach is why the reaction to Fitna in the Netherlands was muted. But he remains of the view that the threat remains.
MP Geert Wilders will be showing his movie in Jerusalem this month. The short film is a collage of images showing terror attacks, alternating with Islamic symbols. It has only been shown on the internet, not in cinemas.
Belying the rumours that circulated before Fitna came out, no damage is actually done on screen to a copy of the Qu'ran, although the sound of paper being torn up is heard.
Film critics are scathing about Fitna, citing a lack of artistic quality and originality. Mr Wilders' point is that Islam's holy book inspires violence.