- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 29, 2008

BRUSSELS — Dutch Muslims reacted calmly yesterday to an anti-Islam film released by a right-wing lawmaker, but governments from the Islamic world lodged protests.

No incidents connected to Geert Wilders’ 16-minute film, “Fitna,” were reported in the Netherlands where leaders said the film wasn’t nearly as bad as expected.

Mr. Wilders even complimented the Dutch Muslims on their calm reaction. “Ode to the Muslims in the Netherlands,” he told a Dutch television station.

The film, however, has caused Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia to officially condemn it. Iran has requested that the Netherlands and the European Union, both of whom have distanced themselves from Mr. Wilders and his film, remove it from the Web.

Meanwhile, the British Web site where the video was posted Thursday, www.liveleak.com, pulled the video late yesterday following what it called “threats to our staff of a very serious nature.”

The film could still be watched on the YouTube site late yesterday. Mr. Wilders originally planned to post the film on his own Web site, but on Monday, its American host, Network Solutions, pulled the plug on the site.

A consortium of some 30 Jordanian newspapers, radio stations and Web sites have said they will take Mr. Wilders to court for insulting the Koran and will organize a boycott of Dutch products.

In Pakistan, hundreds of protesters took to the streets to demand the expulsion of the Dutch ambassador who had already been summoned by parliament, according to the Associated Press. Protesters held signs saying, “We hate the uncivilized West.”

In Indonesia, a former Dutch colony and the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, a government spokesman said “the film has a racist flavor and is an insult to Islam, hidden under the cover of freedom of expression.”

Prominent Dutch-Moroccan leader Mohammed Rabbae of the National Moroccan Council called on Muslims abroad to refrain from violence.

“We Muslims living in the Netherlands are in the best position to deal with [the film fallout],” he said.

The council also said an attack on the Netherlands would be tantamount to an attack on Dutch Muslims and that they would bridge the gap with the ethnically Dutch through friendship, according to AP.

Slovenia, which holds the European Union’s revolving presidency, said: “The European Union and its member states apply the principle of the freedom of speech. … However, it should be exercised in a spirit of respect for religious and other beliefs and convictions.”

The government of Denmark, where publication of cartoons depicting prophet Muhammad in 2005 fueled violent protests worldwide, warned the Wilders film could be exploited by Islamist extremists.

“If you only come up with provocations, you will reach those who want to be provoked and those who then want to use this provocation to inflame the situation instead of having cooperation,” Reuters news agency quoted Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller as saying.

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