Dutch Islam film posted on website

Politician releases controversial film despite fears that it will offend Muslims.

    Some Dutch nationals have created caricatures of Wilders as a protest against his film [AFP]
    International criticism
     
    Dozens of people staged a protest in southern Pakistan against the film on Friday.
     
    Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's largest Muslim party, organised the protest outside a mosque in Karachi.
     
    Some protesters were demanding that Pakistan cut diplomatic relations with the Netherlands over the film.
     
    Nasrullah Shaji, a local party leader, told the crowd: "They are savage and uncivilized. All the Muslim nations should stand up together to counter the nefarious intentions of these people."
     
    The Dutch government has distanced itself from Wilders' views and fears the film will cause protests by Muslims similar to those sparked by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Danish newspapers in 2006.

    Before seeing the film, demonstrators have already taken to the streets from Afghanistan to Indonesia to express their anger at the Netherlands, while the governments of Pakistan and Iran have sharply criticised the project.

    'Not blasphemous'

    Dutch broadcasters have refused to screen the film and a US-based web service on which Wilders had planned to show his film, deactivated the site at the weekend after receiving complaints.

    Hans Andringa, a political correspondent for Radio Netherlands, told Al Jazeera that the film is not an insult to Islam as a religion.

    "I do not think this film is blasphemous, Wilders is expressing his opinion about political Islam, and not the religion itself," he said.

    "Perhaps many will not agree with his views, but he does not represent the ideas of the Dutch government - this is just the personal views of one MP [member of parliament]."

    In a statement, LiveLeak stood by its decision to run the film, it said: "LiveLeak.com has a strict stance on remaining unbiased and allowing freedom of speech so far as the law and our rules allow."

    Boycott fears

    Dutch exporters have expressed fears of a possible boycott in the Muslim world, though trade with such countries makes up only a small percentage of total exports.

    There is also concern for 25,000 Dutch citizens living in Muslim countries.

    Wilders has been under heavy guard because of death threats since the 2004 murder of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch director who made a film critical of Islam's treatment of women.

    His killing by a Muslim extremist triggered a wave of unrest in the Netherlands, home to almost one million Muslims out of a total population of 16 million.

    Earlier this month, Dutch officials raised the national risk level to "substantial" partly because of the Wilders film and perceptions of an increased al-Qaeda threat.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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