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Dutch government regrets release of film criticizing Islam
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2008-03-29 13:56
Prime Minister of the Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenende has expressed regret at the release of a film criticizing Islam by a Dutch right-wing lawmaker.

Reacting to the 16-minute film, which Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders released online Thursday, Balkenende said in a statement posted on the Dutch government website Thursday night: "The film equates Islam with violence. We reject this interpretation."

The film shows images of terrorist attacks in the United States, Spain and Britain alternated with verses from the Koran and statements by radical imams.

The film associates Islam with a number of gruesome crimes and has no aim other than to upset people, Balkenende said.

"The problem is not religion, but misuse of religion to sow hatred and intolerance," he said.

Several Dutch cabinet ministers met Thursday evening to discuss their reaction to the film and spent several hours compiling the government's official response. The government is worried the film could spark protests in the Muslim world like those following the publication of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Balkenende said the public prosecution department is examining the film to see if any laws have been broken.

The prime minister said his government is aware of the international Muslim community's concern regarding this film. The government has recently spoken with many people in the Netherlands and abroad to promote mutual understanding and will continue doing so in the future, he added.

Balkenende also expressed his appreciation of the moderate responses of Muslims at home.

"The government is heartened by the initial restrained reactions of Dutch Muslim organizations," he said.

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