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Dutch PM warns of risks to national interests if anti-Quran film is released

Dutch PM warns of risks to national interests if anti-Quran film is released

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende warned a maverick lawmaker Friday of the risks to Dutch national interests if he presses ahead with a film criticizing the Quran.
Balkenende's appeal to Geert Wilders stopped short of demanding that he not release the film, which Wilders has said is in the final stages of editing.
"Already we are having to take account of serious threats to Dutch people," Balkenende said in a televised news conference.
"When you see how the reactions have been at home and abroad, what the risks could be of this film, then there's one person who must answer for it, and that is Mr. Wilders himself."
Wilders says his short film will portray the Quran as a "fascist book." He does not yet have a broadcaster for it, but says he will release it on the Internet if he fails to find one.
In a statement after Balkenende's news conference, Wilders accused the Cabinet of "bowing to fear of terror and fear of Islam," and rejected calls to scrap the movie.
"Let me make one thing clear: The film will be released," he said.
Last week Pakistan's government ordered Internet providers to restrict access to YouTube, allegedly to prevent Pakistanis from accessing a clip of Wilders in which he makes derogatory remarks about Islam. The move inadvertently caused a worldwide outage of the video sharing site.
The Dutch development minister called off a visit to Somalia Friday after he was warned his life would be in danger on the trip.
"This is about the safety of Dutch citizens and businesses abroad, the Dutch military which is on a mission (in Afghanistan), about the broader interest of the Netherlands, the values for which we stand, our reputation internationally," Balkenende said.
In an Associated Press interview earlier this week, Wilders said negative reactions to his film "only served to prove the point" that Islam should be criticized.
Wilders says the film will demonstrate how the Quran incites violence and intolerance of women and homosexuals.
Muslim groups in the Netherlands say they will file hate-speech charges against Wilders for previous statements, such as his description of Islam as a "retarded" religion. The Grand Mufti of Syria has warned of "bloodshed" if the film is released.
The Dutch national anti-terrorism coordinator has told Wilders he may have to go into hiding abroad once his film is released. He already lives under constant police protection.
The director of an earlier Dutch movie critical of Islam was murdered by a Muslim radical in 2004, prompting a backlash that included the torching of several mosques. The killing of Theo Van Gogh caused the Netherlands to re-examine its famed tolerance and commitment to multiculturalism.
A year later, the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark set off a wave of violent protests around the world _ further deepening fears of a "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West.
Dutch embassies have warned staff to brace for similar violence if the film is broadcast.
Wilders' party holds nine of 150 legislative seats in the Dutch parliament.


Updated : 2021-05-09 10:49 GMT+08:00