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10 Mar, 2008 03:47

Anti-Islamic film divides Dutch

An anti-Islamic film in the Netherlands is threatening to divide a nation with a worldwide reputation for tolerance. The movie's creator, right-wing MP Geert Wilders, insists the film will be aired as soon as he finds a TV channel willing to show it.

Geert Wilders compares the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and wants to send Muslim immigrants back to their countries of origin.

The Dutch government fears the release of Wilders’ film could damage foreign relations.

The Netherlands is home to about a million Muslims. They make up more than six per cent of the country’s population and many believe Geert Wilders is spreading Islamophobia.

The Netherlands has traditionally been a tolerant society but in recent years tensions have been mounting. In 2004, Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh was shot dead by a radical Islamist for making a controversial film about Islamic culture.

Geert Wilders has himself received death threats and has round-the-clock police protection.

Meanwhile, a Dutch filmmaker Ersin Kiris jokingly calls himself a new-age Muslim terrorist. Armed with a sense of humour he’s waging a ‘war against Islamophobia.’

His satirical documentary aims to counter Wilder's film.

“He’s telling these people Muslims want to conquer the Netherlands. It's painful to see people really believe this fairy tale. Humour is the best way to cope with frustration,” Kiris said. 

Europe has recently seen other cases in which items in the media have caused outrage in Muslim communities. In September 2005 a Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten printed caricatures of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. These cartoons sparked international controversy, resulting in the torching of two Danish diplomatic missions, a boycott of Danish goods in some Muslim countries, as well a large number of protests in the Muslim world.