Iran Warns Netherlands Not to Air Controversial Anti-Muslim Film
Jan. 21, 2008
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Tuesday January 22, 2008
A senior Iranian lawmaker warned the Netherlands on Monday not to allow the screening of what it called an anti-Islamic film produced by a Dutch politician, claiming it “reflects insulting views about the Holy Koran.”
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, promised widespread protests and a review of Iran’s relationship with the Netherlands if Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders’ work is shown.
“If Holland will allow the broadcast of this movie, the Iranian parliament will request to reconsider our relationship with it,” Boroujerdi said, according to IRNA, the official Iranian news agency. “In Iran, insulting Islam is a very sensitive matter and if the movie is broadcasted it will arouse a wave of popular hate that will be directed towards any government that insults Islam.
Wilders calls his 10-minute film “a call to shake off the creeping tyranny of Islamicization, ” and said it could air as early as this week on Dutch television.
“People who watch the movie will see that the Koran is very much alive today, leading to the destruction of everything we in the Western world stand for, which is respect and tolerance,” Wilders, the 41-year-old leader of the right-wing Party for Freedom, said last month in a telephone interview with FOXNews.com.
“The tsunami of Islamicization is coming to Europe. We should come to be far stronger.”
Like other European countries, the Netherlands is struggling to cope with an influx of Muslim immigrants, and the newcomers are often relegated to working at low-paying jobs and living in high-crime ghettos. Though the Dutch boast of their culture of tolerance, tensions have been high, with some blaming rising unemployment and crime on newcomers from Muslim countries like Turkey, Morocco and Somalia.
In the late 1990s, political leaders like Pim Fortuyn, Somalian-born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali and outspoken filmmaker Theo van Gogh seemed to tap into a growing well of resentment against Muslims and criticism of Islam.
In 2002, tensions broke into outright murder when Fortuyn was shot by an animal rights activist who told the judge in the case that he was acting on behalf of the country’s Muslims. Two years later, van Gogh was shot, stabbed and nearly decapitated on an Amsterdam street by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Muslim and a Dutch citizen of Moroccan descent.
Van Gogh, with Hirsi Ali, had recently made the film “Submission,” a 10-minute movie that the two said depicted the abuse of women in Islamic cultures. After van Gogh’s murder, the Dutch government placed public figures known for their anti-Muslim stances in safehouses.
Among them was Wilders.
He hasn’t been out of government protection since, a situation he said “I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy,” and his views on Islam have only hardened.
Five months ago, he called for the Koran to be outlawed in the Netherlands.
“I believe our culture is much better than the retarded Islamic cultures,” he told FOXNews.com. “Ninety-nine percent of the intolerance in the world comes back to the Islamic religion and the Koran.”
Though he refuses to claim the mantle of van Gogh’s successor, Wilders clearly sees himself as continuing the controversial filmmaker’s work. He acknowledges the similarities between “Submission” and his own 10-minute work.
“I have so much respect for van Gogh’s movie, aimed at one part of the Koran, women’s bodies, one very bad part of the Koran,” Wilders said. “I will use not only that theme but many others. Of course at the end it is a different movie.”
Though Wilders has remained steadfastly vague about the specific contents of his movie, saying he wants to maximize the “moment of the broadcast itself,” he added that it will include “images and parts of real-time movies that really happen in the Netherlands and the U.K. and the Middle East, the intolerance of the Koran that is still alive and vivid today.”
Wilders, raised Catholic but long an atheist, said he’s working with professors who are experts on the Koran and Islamic culture, professional filmmakers and scriptwriters to complete his film, which he hopes to broadcast this week on “Nova,” a popular news program on Dutch public television. If “Nova” refuses to air the program, he said, he will broadcast the movie using the air time his political party is guaranteed by the government.
The Dutch government, which is protecting Wilders, has publicly warned him about the potential for violence at the completion of his film and has expressed concern over his personal safety. The government is also concerned about peace within the country and interests abroad. In 2005, cartoons printed in a Danish newspaper led to Danish embassies being set on fire, multi-million-dollar anti-Danish consumer boycotts in the Middle East, and hundreds of deaths in riots across the Muslim world.
“The government is taking the announcement of this movie quite seriously,” said Floris van Hovell, a spokesman for the Dutch Embassy in Washington, D.C. “Obviously, because the movie hasn’t been made, we cannot say anything about the movie until the movie has been shown, but the message Mr. Wilders has told us he wants to portray is disturbing.”
Asked if the government plans to beef up security, Van Hovell last month said the government is making a concerted effort to reach out to the Muslim community in the Netherlands and the larger Muslim world.
“We’re explaining that in the Netherlands you have freedom of expression, and that at the same time the Dutch government is very concerned about the message Mr. Wilders supposedly wants to portray in his movie,” van Hovell said.
FOXNews.com’s Michael Park and various wire reports contributed to this story.
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