March 5, 2008 / 8:10 PM / 10 years ago

Dutch PM seeks French help over anti-Islam film

PARIS (Reuters) - Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende asked France Wednesday to show solidarity with his country if there is any fallout over an anti-Islamic film made by a Dutch right-wing politician.

Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, who has called for the Koran to be banned, has made a film in which he presents his views about Islam’s holy text and is in negotiations with TV stations over its broadcast.

Balkenende has warned that Dutch citizens and businesses risk attack because of the film and Wednesday asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy for backing.

“We have indicated that if necessary we will need diplomatic support,” Balkenende told reporters after the meeting, without going into further detail of what this might entail.

“We know nothing for now about the content (of the film). We will have to wait and see,” he said, adding: “Mr. Wilders’s point of view does not reflect that of the Dutch government and we are totally opposed to his vision of Islam.”

Wilders has accused Balkenende of worrying more about the reaction of the Islamic world instead of defending Dutch democratic values and rights. “Let me make one thing clear: the film will be broadcast,” Wilders said last week.

Media reported he expected it to air in March or April.

Balkenende said Wednesday he had no intention of trying to prevent the film from being seen, but said Wilders had to realize what was at stake.

“Mr. Wilders, you have to show a sense of responsibility because your film could have enormous consequences,” he said.

In 2006 demonstrations and rioting erupted in many Muslim countries after Danish cartoons, one showing the Prophet with a turban resembling a bomb, appeared in a Danish newspaper. At least 50 people were killed and three Danish embassies attacked.

Sarkozy’s spokesman said the French president had suggested setting up a European Union fund to finance protection for people whose lives were threatened “by murky fanatics” over issues of freedom of speech.

In 2004 an Islamic militant killed Dutch director Theo Van Gogh over a television film in which he accused Islam of condoning violence against women.


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