The Iranian parliament yesterday urged “the Dutch and Danish governments not to let the Zionism materialize its satanic objectives in the name of honourable nations of Holland and Denmark,” according to Iranian press agency IRNA. This apparently was a reference to republication of controversial cartoons by a Danish newspaper and to Wilders’ film plans.
“We, the representatives of parliament, condemn the satanic act, and call on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to show strong reaction to such sacrilege of Islamic sanctities and revise Iran’s political and trade cooperation with those countries,” IRNA quoted the MPs as saying in their statement.
Meanwhile, the Iranian government has also directly asked the Netherlands to ban the Koran film that Wilders wants to broadcast in March, according to IRNA. Iranian Justice Minister Gholam-Hossein Elham has written a letter to his Dutch counterpart, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin. Without actually naming Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV), the Iranian minister said: “You can stop the proceedings of this satanic and conspiratorial movement on the basis of the European Treaty for Human Rights.”
According to Elham, the film should not come out under the pretext of freedom of expression. “We also respect freedom of expression, but the insulting of sacredness and ethical values under that pretext is totally unacceptable,” he added. He also warned of unrest in the Muslim world if the film still comes out.
Premier Jan-Peter Balkenende said on 18 January that he sees nothing in banning Wilders’ film in advance. “In the Netherlands, freedom of expression and of religion applies,” he stressed. “People can however go to court after the film has come out, for example if they feel insulted.”
Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen repeated the government position yesterday. The Netherlands and Iran have different views, he said. He emphasised that parliamentarians are free in the Netherlands and that Wilders view is not a government position.
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