AMSTERDAM The Netherlands is to raise its
national risk level of a terrorist attack to "substantial,"
partly due to a new film made by a politician that is expected
to be critical of the Koran, media reported on Thursday.
The justice minister is expected to send parliament an
updated threat assessment later in the day, also citing a
heightened terrorism threat level around the world, unnamed
cabinet sources told ANP news agency.
The level had been at "substantial" before as religious and
racial tensions simmered after an Islamic militant killed
director Theo Van Gogh in 2004 over a separate film he made
accusing Islam of condoning violence against women.
The Dutch counter-terrorism agency was not immediately
available to comment on the ANP report.
The Dutch government has warned the latest film, expected
to be released this month by right-wing politician Geert
Wilders, might spark unrest and economic sanctions similar to
the reaction seen after Danish newspapers published cartoons of
the Prophet Mohammed in 2006.
Wilders has given few details about the film he is calling
"Fitna," an Arabic term used in the Koran and sometimes
translated as "strife." He has called the Koran a "fascist"
book that incites violence and said it should be banned.
The Netherlands has a four-stage risk classification system
-- the lowest is "minimal," the highest is "critical."
The counter-terrorism agency cut the threat level to the
second-lowest "limited" last April, citing little fresh
activity by militant networks in the country and growing
resistance to radicalization among the one million Muslims in
No Dutch broadcaster wants to show the new film, the
Volkskrant newspaper reported on Thursday, meaning Wilders will
probably launch it on the Internet and at a news conference in
The Hague, tentatively scheduled for March 28, ANP reported.
A majority of Dutch people want the film to be broadcast
even though they fear it will stoke tension with Muslims and
harm relations with Arab nations, a poll showed on Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen met ambassadors from
Muslim countries on Wednesday to discuss the film and stress
that the government did not share Wilders' views. He asked them
to make sure that Dutch citizens and buildings abroad are
Pakistan's foreign ministry accused the Dutch politician of
"propagating the politics of hate and promoting xenophobia."
Around 5,000 people protested on Wednesday in the
provincial capital of Logar province in Afghanistan about the
reprinting of the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed by Danish
newspapers and Wilders' plan for the Koran film.
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said last week
the country risked economic sanctions and attacks on its troops
in Afghanistan because of the film.