Dutch row over Geert Wilders’ anti-islam film

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The Netherlands are again in the controversial limelight with islam. The populist member of parliament (MP) Geert Wilders is getting ready to show FITNA, a film that defies the Coran, at the end of the month. The Hague is in a state of alert, fearing a surge in hate against its interests and nationals in islamic countries.

jpg_fitna.jpg Geert Wilders is launching a new battle against islam. The documentary which the extreme right MP started shooting in the fall of 2007 will be broadcast before the end of the month of March. Certain sources say that FITNA is about 15 minutes long and shows the leader of the extreme right party either burning coran or tearing it apart. The same coran he described as “facist” and compared to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. He had also called on people to reject “half” of the coran claiming that some parts of it were simply “terrible”.

Broadcasting on the internet

Geert Wilders had planned on broadcasting FITNA, meant to warn people on “the dangers of islam”, on one of the Dutch television networks. The film-maker was, however, scandalised to learn of the refusal from television networks to broadcast his film due to certain conditions. The 44 year old politician had insisted on a non censored broadcast of his film. Incapable of finding any broadcasting channel, Geert Wilders has decided to show his documentary via an internet site created to this effect: www.fitnathemovie.com.

After going public, the film will also be available on www.fitnathemovie.info. The latter site claims it has no links to Geert Wilders and that their involvement which aims at showing his work is purely on the basis of freedom of expression. Parts of the film which could be found on YouTube have been taken off line

The internet broadcast of the documentary is both an alternative solution and a security. Geert Wilders had initially planned to hold a press conference for March 28, in line with the release of his film. However, the Dutch authorities pressed for the safety of all participants of the conference which was scheduled to take place in the Hague’s parliamentary press centre. The required security measures would have cost between 400 000 and 500 000 euros, according the Dutch press.

The Hague’s fear of reprisal

This could not be hastily dealt with. The dutch executive had reason to believe that terrorism could soon hit close to home. “Although security risks have been ‘limited’ in the past few months, there is now clear and present danger following the announcement of Geert Wilders’ film as well as the government’s decision to prolong its military operations in Uruzgan in the south of Afghanistan”, delcared the dutch newspaper, Het Algemeen Dagblad, making reference to valid and “authorised” information.

The Prime Minister Jan Balkenende in a speech said he believed “in the freedom of expression” but he also considered “all the likely victims, military, companies, embassies and dutch citizens abroad”.

As a warning against any eventual reprisals, the government has alerted its foreign companies and embassies in high risk zones in the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia, states the French newspaper Le Monde.

« Exfiltrating » Geert Wilders

The Dutch government after trying to ban the film for fear of reprisals has called on muslim countries not to confound their stance with that of Geert Wilders’. It is in this light that they approached their european partners hoping for support in the event of a diplomatic crisis with Iran, Egypt and Pakistan who have expressed their righteous anger over FITNA. The Hague is seeking to cover itself under the protection of NATO. It also wants to avoid an offensive against its 1600 military contingent after threats of a doubling of attacks from the taliban.

According to Le Monde, The Hague is ready to exfiltrate Geert Wilders – who is used to high security protection after death threats were leveled at him – should the situation go bad. It is perhaps to prevent another gruesome murder, with Theo Van Gogh’s fate still fresh in people’s minds. Theo Van Gogh, a film director, had his throat slit by a Dutch born Moroccan islamist shortly after the release of his film ‘submission’, a film that denounced the treatment of women in islam.

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