Sarkozy voices ‘support’ for Dutch PM in anti-Islam film row
PARIS, March 6, 2008 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesdayvoiced his solidarity with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, whofears a Muslim backlash over a film criticising Islam made by a far-rightDutch MP. Sarkozy assured Balkenende of his "support" over lunch at the ElyseePalace, saying he was "highly aware of the question of Islam's place inEuropean societies, and French society in particular," a presidentialspokesman said. Balkenende stressed once again that he was in "total disagreement" with thefilm's author Geert Wilders, warning it could spark protests similar to thoseunleashed by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Denmark. "Obviously, we need to be careful of what is happening in other countries,"he said. Wilders, head of the Dutch far-right Freedom Party, said that if he finds aDutch broadcaster to show the film uncut it could be on the air within acouple of days, and that he will otherwise present it at a press conferencelater this month and on the Internet. The planned release of the film, which Wilders says portrays the "fascist"character of Islam's holy book, the Koran, has already sparked protests inparts of the Muslim world. Muslim-majority Bangladesh has called for its broadcast to be cancelled,Afghan lawmakers have demonstrated against it and the Taliban has warned itwill step up attacks on Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan. The film, which lasts around 15 minutes, is called "Fitna", which in Arabicmeans war, or division, in the heart of Islam.