Dutch warn EU of possible anti-Koran video backlash

Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:30am EDT
 

By Ingrid Melander and Elaine Codogno

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on Friday he had warned European leaders of a possible backlash against European interests over a Dutch video which criticizes the Koran.

Right-wing parliamentarian Geert Wilders, who says the Koran is a "fascist" book that incites violence, plans to show the 15-minute film this month despite appeals from the Dutch government and mounting unrest in the Muslim world.

"Possible consequences of showing the movie ... may not be limited to just the Netherlands but could spread to the international scene," Balkenende told a news conference after talks at an EU summit late on Thursday, saying he was concerned and wanted to share this with his counterparts.

The Netherlands raised its national risk level to "substantial" earlier this month ahead of the film's release.

A Dutch diplomat said the movie could "trigger fierce reactions" which could spread to other European countries.

"We will keep each other informed about the situation so that when the movie comes out we can all speak with one European voice," Balkenende said.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose country faced riots and attacks on its embassies after Danish newspapers published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in 2006, said after the meeting that the Netherlands could count on EU solidarity.

Asked what lessons he drew from the cartoon case, Rasmussen told reporters: "It is fruitful to have a firm stance concerning freedom of expression." He said it was up to the Dutch government whether to allow the video to be broadcast.   Continued...

 
<p>Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands attends a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 26, 2008. Balkenende has warned European leaders of a possible backlash against European interests over a Dutch video which criticizes the Koran, diplomats said on Friday. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse</p>