Tags: Muslims | Condemn | film

Muslims, Europeans Condemn Anti-Islam Film

Friday, 28 Mar 2008 12:27 PM

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An anti-Islam film posted online by a far-right Dutch deputy drew fire Friday from Muslims and European officials, and a call for calm from Muslims in The Netherlands fearing a violent response.

Muslim countries warned of strong reactions to the film, which came two years after a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed published in Danish media sparked violent worldwide outrage.

Geert Wilders posted his film "Fitna" ("Discord" in Arabic), featuring violent imagery of extremist attacks which it linked to verses from the Koran, on the British-based website liveleak.com on Thursday.

The Shiite government of Iran was among the first to react, saying that the film showed some Westerners were waging a "vendetta" against Islam, and warning of unspecified repercussions.

A coalition of Jordanian media said they would take Wilders to court over the film and launch a campaign to boycott Dutch products. They urged Arab leaders to review ties with Denmark and the Netherlands.

In Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, about 40 supporters of the hardline Islamist party Jamaat-i-Islami protested, chanting "Death to the filmmaker" and demanding Pakistan's government sever diplomatic ties with The Netherlands.

The government of Muslim-majority Bangladesh also condemned the film, saying in a statement that it could have "grave consequences ... because it will offend millions of Muslims around the world."

Muslim leaders in The Netherlands called at a joint news conference for their co-religionists in other countries not to over-react.

"We call on them to follow our strategy and not react with attacks on Dutch embassies or tourists," the head of the Dutch Moroccan community, Mohamed Rabbae, said.

"We feel offended by the link between violence and Islam but we know this guy (Wilders), the best response is a response in a responsible manner."

The European Union's Slovenian presidency attacked the film, saying it served "no other purpose than inflaming hatred."

British Foreign Minister David Miliband stressed the importance of freedom of speech but said it should be combined with "respect for religious and racial diversity."

Europe's top human rights authority, the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, called the film "a distasteful manipulation which exploits ignorance, prejudice and fear."

"It is simply political propaganda and it plays into the hands of extremists who are given such a prominent role in his film," the council's secretary general, Terry Davis, said in a statement.

Wilders himself said Friday that he was pleased with the relatively calm reaction in his country. "It was not my intention to cause riots," he told AFP.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende issued a statement condemning the film which he said "equates Islam with violence. We reject that interpretation."

The Danish cartoonist whose caricature of the Prophet Mohammed outraged Muslims two years ago meanwhile said he would press charges for copyright infringement against Wilders for reproducing it at the end of his video.

"I won't accept my cartoon being taken out of its original context and used in a completely different one," Westergaard told AFP Friday.

Wilders' video contains an image of Westergaard's cartoon showing the prophet with a bomb, its fuse burning, protruding from his turban.

Copyright AFP 2008, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast,

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