Muslim states slam Dutch at U.N. on Islamophobia

GENEVA (Reuters) - Muslim countries led by Iran and Pakistan called on the Netherlands on Tuesday to combat what they called rising Islamophobia and discrimination against immigrants in Dutch society.

Condemning a film released by Dutch member of parliament Geert Wilders that accuses the Koran of condoning violence, they also urged Dutch authorities to prosecute its author for inciting hatred against Muslims.

The video “Fitna”, launched last month on the Internet, urges Muslims to tear out “hate-filled” verses from the Koran and starts and ends with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb under his turban, accompanied by a ticking sound.

“Despite an impressive array of (Dutch) laws and an elaborate framework to combat racism and xenophobia, recent actions by individuals to incite racial hatred and religious intolerance have shocked Muslims around the world,” Pakistan’s ambassador Masood Khan told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“A defamatory documentary released by a Dutch parliamentarian intended to demonize Muslims and distort the message of the Koran has been widely condemned,” he said, referring to the leader of the anti-immigration Freedom Party.

Khan called on the Dutch government to complete its investigation into the film’s release and to prosecute the author for “inciting hatred against Muslims in the Netherlands and all around the world”.

Iran’s ambassador Alireza Moaiyeri also denounced discrimination against minorities in the Netherlands. The most recent example was “attacking Islam through the making of a defamatory film against the holy Koran as a vivid example of Islamophobia and incitement to racial and religious hatred”.

Nebahat Albayrak, Dutch state secretary for justice and one of two Muslims in the cabinet, told the Geneva forum her government had opposed the release of the film.

Albayrak, who is Turkish-born, said her government was drawing up a plan to combat racial discrimination on the labor market, in law enforcement, criminal investigation and on the Internet.

“Combating prejudice and respecting freedom of Muslims to practice their religion are key themes of our integration policies,” she said.

“The Dutch government strongly believes that fostering inter-action (between communities) will help us to combat discrimination and Islamophobia,” she added.

The Dutch public prosecutor was investigating a possible criminal offence in connection with the film, she added. Dutch Muslims have defended freedom of expression as a fundamental right of Dutch society, she said. (Editing by Jonathan Lynn and Ibon Villelabeitia)