Malaysian furore over Dutch film

Ruling party members join Muslim outrage calling for boycott of Dutch products.

    A leading supermarket chain attached labels
    identifying Dutch products [Reuters]

    On Monday, Malaysia's religious council ruled that Fitna was an insult to Islam and urged Muslims to protest by boycotting Dutch products, saying it created unnecessary tensions and misled viewers to link Islam with violence.


    Wilders criticised 


    On Tuesday a group of Umno Youth members carried banners that read "Islam is Peace" outside the Dutch ambassador's residence, shouting "Allah is great" and displaying posters including one depicting Wilders as Satan.


    Pirdaus Ismail, who led some 20 Umno Youth members, said the Dutch government should promote religious harmony.


    Pirdaus also reiterated that freedom of speech is no justification to insult Muslim sensitivities.


    Marzuki Yahya, an official from the youth movement, said they wanted to tell the world not to "simply criticise Islam".


    'Respect Muslims'


    "They should respect Muslim people," Yahya said.


    "The government of Holland should apologise and take full responsibility."


    On the same day, Mydin Wholesale Emporium, one of the country's leading supermarket chains, initiated a soft boycott by marking products with red labels specifying all items made in the Netherlands.


    Wilders' film Fitna has triggered
    widespread condemnation [AFP]

    Ameer Ali Mydin, managing director of Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd, said 40 of his stores would participate in the campaign, which will give customers the option of boycotting Dutch products.


    "I think as a Muslim, we have to take a stand," Mydin told The Associated Press.


    The chain buys $18.8m worth of Dutch goods a year, ranging from dairy products and cosmetics to electronics.

    Muslims make up slightly more than 60 per cent of the 27 million people in Malaysia.


    Lody Embrechts, the Dutch ambassador to Malaysia, said the film's release was regrettable but called for a dialogue instead of a boycott of Dutch goods.




    "The film indeed equates Islam with violence. The Dutch government rejects that interpretation," Embrechts told The Associated Press.


    "The Dutch government really regrets that Mr Wilders produced this movie ... to cause offence."


    On Wednesday, Malaysian dairy giant Dutch Lady Milk Industries, in a response to calls for a boycott of Dutch products, took out full-page newspaper advertisements to denounce the film.


    The public-listed company said in the newspaper announcements and on its website that it "strongly condemns this expression against Islam" by Wilders.

    Dutch Lady, whose parent is Dutch multinational firm Royal Friesland Foods, is 50 per cent owned by Malaysians and employs 660 Malaysians to make dairy products locally.

    Company's appeal


    "We are part of the Malaysian community and respect all its cultures as its own," Kamarul Ariffin Mohamad Yassin, the company's chairman, said in the advertisement.


    "We look forward to your continued support and will always cherish the values that we share."

    Late in 2005 Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published caricatures of Prophet Muhammad but a furore erupted only after other papers reprinted them in 2006.


    At least 50 people were killed in related protests against the publication of the cartoons, which some Muslims say are an affront to Islam.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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