Verhagen warns Wilders not to release film
29 February 2008
AMSTERDAM – Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen on Thursday called upon legislator Geert Wilders, founder of the right-wing Freedom Party, not to broadcast a movie that is heavily critical of the Islamic religion.
Verhagen said the movie might "endanger the lives of Dutch nationals" worldwide and harm Dutch business in Muslim countries.
"I am very concerned about the wellbeing of Dutch nationals abroad," Verhagen said, speaking in a Dutch current affairs programme.
"I am not trying to meet demands from anti-democratic forces and terrorists in the Middle East," Verhagen said. "I am simply protecting Dutch interests abroad."
The faction leader of Verhagen’s Christian Democrats in parliament, Pieter van Geel, joined him in the public request.
Earlier Thursday the Taliban threatened to harm Dutch military targets in Afghanistan and beyond if Wilders persists in his plans to release a movie criticising the Islamic religion.
Al-Qaeda has also threatened to harm Dutch targets if the movie is broadcast. Last week the Iranian parliament warned the Dutch government to ensure the movie will not be aired.
Responding to Verhagen, Wilders, who announced his film will be broadcast in the coming days on www.fitnathemovie.com, said the Dutch minister could "get lost."
Wilders is the most outspoken Islam critic in the Netherlands. He has called Islam a "backward and retarded culture" and the Koran a "fascist book."
In August, he called for a ban on the Koran in the Netherlands.
Last November he announced he would make a movie explaining to the Dutch public why the Koran is a fascist book that incites people to commit violence and terrorism.
Even before Dutch Muslims responded to the movie, the Dutch government officially warned Wilders that the film might pose a danger to his life.
In 2004, Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh was assassinated by a Muslim fundamentalist after making the movie Submission, a film criticising the position of women in the Muslim world.
Wilders is one of several Dutch Islam critics who has been living under heavy personal security ever since.
Earlier this month Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende sharply criticised Wilders’ approach on migrants and Islam in an opinion article in Dutch daily Volkskrant.
Balkenende said last year that Wilders had the "every right" to make a movie of any kind, as the Netherlands is a "free country" where people enjoy freedom of expression.
The Freedom Party Wilders established prior to the 2006 parliamentary elections is doing very well in the Dutch polls. If elections would be held today, the party would jump from 9 to 15 seats in parliament.
[Copyright dpa 2008]