Dutch soldiers serving with Nato in Afghanistan will face new threats if their country allows the broadcast of an anti-Islamic film, Bozorgmehr Ziaran, Iran’s ambassador to the Netherlands, has said.
He announced his intention to rally global Muslim opinion against plans by Geert Wilders, the maverick Dutch MP, to show a short movie attacking the Koran.
Mr Ziaran also fuelled fears of a violent backlash by issuing a veiled threat that Dutch troops would be regarded as “representatives of people who besmirch the Koran”.
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“Afghans will view these troops as there to take our power, to destroy us and to ruin our values,” he told De Volkskrant newspaper.
But Mr Wilders, the controversial leader of the anti-immigration Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) has vowed to ignore “daily death threats” and pressure from the authorities by broadcasting his film next month on the Koran, which he compares to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
“The serious threats to my life and the Dutch government’s panicked response to my film underline the truth of what I am saying. The Koran is dangerous,” he said.
“I am human so I sometimes feel real fear but I will not let the politics of fear stop me from saying what must be said.”
Mr Wilders, 44, lives under police protection and regularly moves from one secure accommodation to another. He has kept details of his 10-minute film under wraps, leading to media speculation that it is a hoax. But Mr Wilders is adamant about its existence.
Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, has given warning of a “national crisis” if Mr Wilders broadcasts his attack.
Secret plans have now been drawn up which include the evacuation of Dutch nationals from certain countries, amid fears of violent protests at home and abroad.
European Union officials have also been consulted over predictions that the film could see a repeat of the global anti-Western backlash that followed the publication of Danish cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed two years ago.
Mr Wilders, who sees himself as the successor to Pim Fortuyn, the murdered anti-immigration Dutch politician, argues that the one million Muslims living in Holland should renounce parts of their religion or leave.
“I believe Christians and Jews have a lot in common, but the Koran is a non-liberal book, preaching totalitarianism and the hatred of women,” he said.
Job Cohen, Amsterdam’s mayor, succeeded in keeping the city calm after the murder in 2004 by a Dutch Muslim of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who had also made an anti-Islamic film.
Mr Cohen, who is Jewish, accused Mr Wilders of deliberately stoking tensions and used a speech to mark this week’s Holocaust Memorial Day to warn against the “dehumanising” of communities.