Parliament is already brewing controversy in the Islamic world, less than one month before it is planned to be aired on television. The film sparking the storm is entitled “Fitna” (Ordeal in Arabic) and is being produced by Geert Wilders, a far-right politician critical of Islam.
In the film, Wilders accuses the Qur’an of inciting murder and argues that the Islamic Holy Book is “a horrible and fascist book” that encourages people to commit “awful acts.”
“I hope that it will open peoples’ eyes to the fact that the Qur’an should be banned like “Mein Kampf,” Wilders said in a November interview. The film is scheduled to air next month.
With an already tense situation between Europe and the Islamic world after the republishing of Danish political cartoons that insulted Muslims across the globe by depicting the Prophet Mohamed wearing a bomb for a turban, the Dutch government is keeping ominously silent on the issue.
The Dutch Embassy in Cairo referred to the press department at The Hague when asked about the film. The Hague refused to comment on the film, saying that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s statement given during his weekly press conference with reporters on January 18 would suffice.
At the press conference, the PM deflected much of the issue, saying that what was in the film was “unknown” and that “there is no way of making an informed judgment about the work”.
“It has become apparent that concerns exist, both here and abroad, that the film could be offensive, potentially inviting heated reactions that could affect public order, public safety and security, and the economy.
“As you are aware, the government is preparing for the possible repercussions that the broadcast of the film could have, internationally as well as domestically . In this way we are shouldering our responsibility, just as we would in other circumstances.”
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has responded with a statement that condemns the actions of Wilders. It has called for increasing efforts for tolerance in Europe in the face of the ongoing Danish cartoons dispute.
“It is regrettable that European lawmakers and politicians use gratuitous methods to gain electoral votes by attacking the sacred values and religions of others” ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said.
Zaki added in reference to Wilders that politicians like him “focus their hatred on Islam” and are planning to show films undermining Islamic symbols and notions . He said these actions “feed hatred against Muslims and encourage extremism and confrontation instead of opting for dialogue based on mutual respect”.
“It is obvious he (Wilders) has never read the Qur’an,” Sarah, an American and a Christian, said when confronted with the news of the film’s content.