Anti-Islamic film fails to spark violent protests
By Harry de Quetteville in Berlin
Last Updated: 1:12am GMT 29/03/2008
The release of a provocative new film equating Islam with violence has failed to spark major unrest, despite the concerns voiced by Western security agencies.
Bruno Waterfield: No ban on Dutch MP's anti-Islam film
Dutch MP Geert Wilders's film Fitna, which translates as strife in Arabic, features images from the September 11 2001 attacks on New York and opens with a Danish cartoon of the prophet Mohammed which has prompted riots in the past.
Dutch Right-wing MP Geert Wilders claimed Islam sought world domination
In the run-up to the film's release Dutch intelligence agencies had raised the terror threat to "substantial".
But while Indonesia, Pakistan and Iran all strongly condemned the film in official statements, there appeared to be little widespread popular outrage in the Muslim world.
However, the violent reaction in the Middle East and beyond after the 2005 publication in Denmark of cartoons deemed offensive to Islam took months to develop.
The release of Fitna has come just days before Germany stages the first ever dramatised performance of British author Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses.
The book was condemned by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini on its release two decades ago, and Mr Rushdie was forced to live in hiding for nine years.
German authorities say there will be a heavy police presence at the theatre on Sunday night.
Like Mr Rushdie, the Danish artist who pictured Mohammed with a bomb nestling in his turban has also been forced into hiding.
advertisementBut Kurt Westergaard has distanced himself from the new film and has said he will sue for breach of copyright over the unauthorised use of his cartoon in it. He said his cartoon was a critique of terrorism, not a generalised attack on Islam.
"I will not accept my cartoon being taken out of its original context and used in a completely different one," he said.
The Dutch government has also acted swiftly to condemn ‘Fitna' and praised the calls for calm issued by an Islamic association in the Netherlands.
"We call on them [fellow Muslims] to follow our strategy and not react with attacks on Dutch embassies or tourists," said the head of the Dutch Moroccan National Council, Mohamed Rabbae.
"An attack on the Netherlands is an attack on us."
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, described the response of Muslim in the Netherlands as "dignified". The United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon also attacked the film.
"I condemn in the strongest terms the airing of Geert Wilders' offensively anti-Islamic film," he said in a statement.
"There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence. The right of free speech is not at stake here."
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