Dutch lawmaker says anti-Koran film almost finished

AMSTERDAM Wed Feb 27, 2008 11:44am EST

Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders (C) walks the streets during his one-man campaign in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, May 17 2005. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders (C) walks the streets during his one-man campaign in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, May 17 2005.

Credit: Reuters/Michael Kooren

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A politician making an anti-Koran film that has stirred Muslim outrage, brought him death threats and alarmed the Dutch government said on Wednesday the movie would be finished this week.

Geert Wilders has given few details about the content of his film "Fitna", other than saying that in it he intends to present his views about the Koran. In the past he has called for the Koran to be banned and likened it to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.

He said talks with Dutch broadcasters would begin next week over the screening of "Fitna", an Arabic term used in the Koran and sometimes translated as "strife".

At the same time as the film is televised it will also be made available on a special internet site www.fitnathemovie.com, intended to skirt any restrictions on access.

"It is very good news. The film will definitely be finished this week, that is to say before March 1," Wilders told Reuters.

The project has sparked street protests as far afield as Indonesia.

Pakistan's upper house of parliament adopted a resolution this week condemning efforts to denigrate Islam and promote hatred, referring to cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad first published in Danish newspapers in 2005 and to Wilders' film.

Turkey has voiced concern about the film, and the Iranian government called it a "provocative and Satanic" act.

Several films purporting to be Wilders' 15-minute film have appeared on the YouTube Web site. Access to the site was disrupted around the world last weekend after Pakistani Internet service providers tried to prevent local users from seeing them.

DEATH THREATS

Dutch anti-terrorism officials said there had been calls for Wilders to be killed posted on Islamic militant Web sites. Wilders, who has lived under tight security for years, said he was alarmed but vowed not to be swayed by such threats.

The Dutch government fears the film could spark protests like those triggered by the Danish cartoons, in which at least 50 were killed worldwide, and harm Dutch business interests.

Wilders' right-wing party has nine of the 150 seats in the Dutch parliament, and has gained support in recent opinion polls. He has warned of a "tsunami of Islamisation" in a country which is home to almost a million Muslims.

This month, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance said Muslims in the Netherlands faced mounting violence and discrimination.

It accused Wilders' party of "stigmatizing, stereotyping and even outright racist discourse targeting Muslims" which it said largely went unchallenged by mainstream parties, and called on the Dutch government to do more to fight Islamophobia.

Wilders defended his film: "I am not endangering anybody or stirring trouble. I am a democratically elected parliamentarian who is exercising his right to free speech."

The Netherlands was plunged into turmoil in 2004 when an Islamic militant killed director Theo Van Gogh over a television film accusing Islam of condoning violence against women.

The film's writer, Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, was forced into hiding by death threats, and the former lawmaker eventually left the Netherlands, saying life under guard was unbearable.

Dutch Muslims have said they want to open mosques on the day Fitna is screened to demonstrate tolerance and diffuse tension.

(Additional reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by Andrew Roche)