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Dutch lawmaker urged not to release controversial film
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2008-03-01 14:09
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has called on right-wing lawmaker Geert Wilders not to release his planned anti-Islam film because it could cause the Netherlands serious political, economic and security damage.

Verhagen said Thursday that broadcasting the film is irresponsible, because there are already evidence that emotions are running high in Muslim countries concerning the imminent release of the film, Dutch paper De Telegraaf reported Friday.

The Christian Democratic Alliance (CDA), the biggest of the three Dutch coalition parties, also urged Wilders to cancel plans to show the film.

"This has nothing to do with freedom of expression but is about responsibility for the possible consequences for the safety of Dutch people and our economy," CDA leader Pieter van Geel said.

Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party which has nine seats in the lower house of the Dutch parliament, said that his film will be completed Friday. Wilders is still looking for a television broadcaster to broadcast the film.

Wilders said earlier that the film, entitled Fitna (meaning ordeal or trial), would show the Koran as "a source of inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror." He plans to release it on March.

Verhagen and Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin held a hour-long meeting with Wilders on Wednesday trying to persuade him to drop the project.

But other Dutch political parties did not support the CDA call. Labor, Liberal, Socialist and the Green Left lawmakers reportedly said the right to freedom of expression was paramount. Meanwhile they stressed that Wilders should be responsible in exercising this right.

The Labor Party has criticized the foreign minister'' statement as premature, since there is still no clear information about the content of the film.

On Thursday, the International Film Festival for Children in Cairo, Egypt boycotted the Dutch entry to protest the anti-Islam film by Wilders.

The director of the film festival, Fawzi Fahmi, said this was "a symbolic statement against all those who continue to insult and degrade monotheistic religions."

Also on Thursday, the Taliban threatened to intensify the attacks on Dutch troops in Afghanistan if Wilders' film is broadcast.

The Netherlands has more than 1,600 troops in Afghanistan, the vast majority of them in the southern province of Uruzgan.

The film is "an insult to Islam," said Zabihullah Mujahid, one of the main spokesmen for the Taliban. Mujahid regularly calls press agencies in Afghanistan to issue statements.

During a meeting of European Union justice and home affairs ministers in Brussels on Thursday, Dutch Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin received "informative and concerned questions" from his counterparts concerning the anti-Koran film, De Volkskrant.

He gave them "the necessary information" about security that may be required for Dutch companies and embassies in other EU countries if the film leads to fierce protests against the Netherlands.

"The problem remains that we are talking about a film that no one has seen but that could be regarded as hurtful," said Hirsch Ballin.

Some Dutch businesses also expressed their concern about the possible consequences of the film.

The spokesman of the Dutch Dairy Organization, Rene van Buitenen, said the Dutch dairy sector has a lot of exports to Islamic countries.

"We also support freedom of expression. Hopefully the government will make it clear in its communication with other countries that respect for religion is equally important in the Netherlands," he said.

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