EU, US voice concern over Dutch film insulting Quran

The Hague – (IINA)January 27 –— The European Union and the United States voiced concern over a Dutch lawmaker’s plan to produce a film insulting the Holy Quran, saying that the short film could reignite tensions with Muslims after the Danish cartoons affair. European justice ministers, who met here yesterday have expressed concern about the plan to make a potentially inflammatory film, ministers and officials said. They said that Dutch justice officials had raised the issue at informal talks in Slovenia, and had called for EU support. “It would, of course, have important repercussions for other countries of the European Union as well,” Luxembourg Justice Minister Luc Frieden told AFP, on the sidelines of the talks. “It is our moral duty to call upon everybody, to make people aware, so that they do not abuse their fundamental rights” of freedom of expression, he said. “We must also protect those who may be hurt or harmed by irresponsible statements.”
Meanwhile, The US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI Wednesday circulated a report on the expected release of a 10-minute anti-Islam film by Dutch far-right Party for Freedom Founder and Chairman Geert Wilders, which is expected to spark global protests and raises the possibility of violence in Europe.

The DHS/FBI report was published in anticipation of a Friday release of the film; however, Wilders himself told a Dutch newspaper that he needs at least two more weeks to finish the film. So far, no one has seen even as single pre-release frame of the film. The DHS/FBI report follows weeks of speculation on the reactions to the film that continues to gain momentum in overseas media and online outlets. The report states clearly in its headline and key findings section that “the film is unlikely to incite violence in the United States but may provoke protests overseas.” Wilders, a self-professed anti-Islam politician is rumored to argue in the film that the Quran encourages violence against non-Muslims, the report states.
Geert Wilders has been in the spotlight since he announced in the Netherlands in November that he plans to make a short film to show that Islam’s holy book is “a fascist book” that “incites people to murder”. Dutch observers fear that Wilders will burn or tear up the Quran in it. “The Dutch minister expressed a certain preoccupation about that and asked for the support of his colleagues,” an EU official said. It remains unclear if and when the movie will be shown. Wilders told Saturday’s edition of Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that it would be several weeks yet, after earlier giving a date of the end of January.
“The EU has to be attentive,” the EU official said. “We are trying to avoid the situation we had with the cartoons.” A series of 12 cartoons insulting Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) published in Denmark’s biggest daily newspaper two years ago led to deadly riots in several Muslim countries.

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The EU official said that the bloc’s Counter Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove noted during the discussions that “we have to think about how to deal with that.” German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said the EU ministers “agreed we would remain in contact” with their Dutch counterpart Ernst Hirsch Ballin over the issue. De Telegraaf said it had viewed some rushes from the film. “The opening shot shows to the left the cover of the Quran, and to the right the words ‘Warning: this book contains shocking pictures’,” it said. “The film does not only talk about the Quran, it plays out within its framework,” he said. “The edges of the book will be permanently visible (in the film) and within this frame, we show images of what is described in the words of the Quran.”

Wilders has been under heavy police protection since the 2004 murder of Dutch director and columnist Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh was killed by a radical Muslim after he directed a film criticizing the position of women in Islam. Numerous Islamic associations have already urged Muslims in the country to stay calm and not allow themselves to be provoked. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said the Netherlands is ready to act quickly if the film causes unrest, and stressed that “provocations” have no place in the Dutch tradition of tolerance.