Dutch government raises terrorism alert
6 March 2008
AMSTERDAM – The Dutch government says it has raised the terrorism alert level from "limited" to "substantial" because of "increased international threats", a justice ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
The spokesman also mentioned the film about the Koran that has generated controversy and concern ahead of its release on 28 March as a factor in its decision.
The film, Fitna, was produced by legislator Geert Wilders, who is also the Netherlands’ most outspoken critic of Islam. Wilders said he set out to prove the Koran is a "fascist book that incites people to commit violence" with the film.
On Friday, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende warned Wilders the release of his film might have "far-reaching security consequences" and even cause "deaths."
Balkenende called on Wilders to "take responsibility" for the possible consequences of the film.
Various Dutch employers’ associations and employees unions, as well as representatives of the Protestant Church have also urged Wilders not to release the film.
Justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, a Christian Democrat, is due to update the Parliament on the international terrorism situation on Thursday.
The first public broadcast of Fitna is expected take place in the international press centre Nieuwspoort in The Hague where heavy security measures were in place Thursday.
[Copyright dpa 2008]