- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 3, 2008


THE HAGUE — Dutch soldiers serving with NATO in Afghanistan will face new threats if their country allows the broadcast of an anti-Islamic film, Iran’s ambassador to the Netherlands has said.

Bozorgmehr Ziaran announced his intention to rally global Muslim opinion against plans by maverick Dutch legislator Geert Wilders to show a short movie attacking the Koran.

Mr. Ziaran also fueled fears of a violent backlash by issuing a veiled threat that Dutch troops would be regarded as “representatives of people who besmirch the Koran.”

“Afghans will view these troops as there to take our power, to destroy us and to ruin our values,” he told De Volkskrant newspaper last week.

Alaoddin Boroujerdi, an Iranian lawmaker, last week warned that Tehran would be forced to review its ties with the Netherlands if the movie was screened, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.

But Mr. Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration Dutch Freedom Party, has vowed to ignore “daily death threats” and pressure from the authorities by broadcasting his film next month on the Koran, which he compares to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

“The serious threats to my life and the Dutch government’s panicked response to my film underline the truth of what I am saying — the Koran is dangerous,” he said.

“I am human so I sometimes feel real fear, but I will not let the politics of fear stop me from saying what must be said.”

The 44-year old member of parliament, who lives under police protection and regularly moves from one secure accommodation to another, has kept details of his 10-minute film under wraps, even leading to press speculation that it is a hoax. But Mr. Wilders is adamant about its existence.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has given warning of a “national crisis” if Mr. Wilders broadcasts his attack. Secret plans have now been drawn up, which include the evacuation of Dutch nationals from certain countries, owing to fear of violent protests at home and abroad.

European Union officials have also been consulted over predictions that the film could see a repeat of the global anti-Western backlash that followed the publication of Danish cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad two years ago.

Mr. Wilders, who sees himself as the successor to Pim Fortuyn, the slain anti-immigration Dutch politician, argues that the 1 million Muslims living in the Netherlands should renounce parts of their religion or leave.

“I believe Christians and Jews have a lot in common, but the Koran is a non-liberal book, preaching totalitarianism and the hatred of women,” he said.

Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen succeeded in keeping the city calm after the 2004 killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who also had made an anti-Islamic film.

Mr. Cohen, who is Jewish, accused Mr. Wilders of deliberately stoking tensions and used a speech to mark Holocaust Memorial Day last month to warn against the “dehumanizing” of communities.

Bruno Waterfield in Brussels contributed to this article.

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