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European Parliament bans anti-Islam film Fitna

BRUSSELS – The European Parliament has banned the screening on its premises of the anti-Islam movie Fitna.

The maker of the film, Dutch right-wing MP and Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders, reacted angrily, saying it was a sad day for democracy.

In a joint move, leaders of various blocs in the European Parliament (EP) reinforced their earlier decision, taken in March, that they wouldn’t allow the movie to be shown, arguing that it incites hatred.

The screening of the 17-minute-movie was to have taken place in a conference room, where Wilders also announced the intention of his party to run for seats in the EP at the coming elections in June 2009.

There was some confusion in the room when projectors were lowered from the ceiling and screens unfolded, but the apparatus was soon withdrawn again. The initiative to show the movie in Strasbourg was taken by the British anti-European United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), part of the EP’s Independence and Democracy Group.

Wilders reminded his audience that Fitna has already been shown in Jerusalem and New York, and will be soon in the British upper house of parliament, the House of Lords.

The film, a collage of Islamic symbols, Qur’an quotes and news footage of terrorist attacks, has also been seen by millions on the internet.

Wilders and his party claim that the Qur’an incites people to violence.

When Fitna first appeared on the internet, the Dutch government went to great lengths to explain to the world how freedom of expression works in the Netherlands.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s main message was that even though an opposition MP may be allowed to produce such a movie, it does not mean that the government agrees with or supports it.

[Radio Netherlands / ANP / AFP/ Expatica]