AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Muslim nations condemned on Friday a film by a Dutch lawmaker that accuses the Koran of inciting violence, as Dutch Muslim leaders urged restraint.
Islam critic Geert Wilders launched his short video on the Internet on Thursday evening. Titled “Fitna,” an Arabic term sometimes translated as “strife,” it intersperses images of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and Islamist bombings with quotations from the Koran, Islam’s holy book.
The film urges Muslims to tear out “hate-filled” verses from the Koran and starts and ends with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb under his turban, accompanied by the sound of ticking.
The cartoon, first published in Danish newspapers, ignited violent protests around the world and a boycott of Danish products in 2006. Many Muslims regard any depiction of the Prophet as offensive.
“The film is solely intended to incite and provoke unrest and intolerance among people of different religious beliefs and to jeopardize world peace and stability,” the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the film as “offensively anti-Islamic” and said there was “no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence.”
Iran called the film heinous, blasphemous and anti-Islamic, and Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation and a former Dutch colony, said it was an “insult to Islam, hidden under the cover of freedom of expression.”
The Saudi Arabian embassy in The Hague said the film was provocative and full of errors and incorrect allegations that could lead to hate towards Muslims, news agency ANP reported.
Dutch Muslim leaders appealed for calm and called on Muslims worldwide not to target Dutch interests. The Netherlands is home to about 1 million Muslims out of a population of 16 million.
“Our call to Muslims abroad is follow our strategy and don’t frustrate it with any violent incidents,” Mohammed Rabbae, a Dutch Moroccan leader, told journalists in an Amsterdam mosque.
The Dutch Islamic Federation went to court on Friday to try to stop Wilders from comparing Islam to fascism, saying he incited hatred of Muslims.
Dutch authorities reported no incidents in contrast to the unrest that swept the country after the murder by a militant Islamist in 2004 of Dutch director Theo van Gogh, who made a film accusing Islam of condoning violence against women.
In a survey conducted on Friday, pollster Maurice de Hond found that only 12 percent of those questioned thought the film represented Islam accurately, but 43 percent agreed Islam was a serious threat to the Netherlands over the long term.
Wilders has been under heavy guard because of Islamist death threats since the murder of director van Gogh. Support for his anti-immigration Freedom Party rose in anticipation of the film to about 10 percent of the vote.
The Dutch government has distanced itself from Wilders and tried to prevent the kind of backlash Denmark suffered over the Prophet cartoons.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he was “proud” of how Dutch Muslim organizations responded to the film but that it was too early to draw conclusions on the international consequences: “There are reasons for continued alertness.”
Dutch exporters association Fenedex said it did not expect a negative impact on Dutch companies in Muslim countries.
There was a small protest by dozens of Islamists in Karachi on Friday, demanding that Pakistan sever diplomatic ties with Denmark and the Netherlands.
NATO has expressed concern the film could worsen security for foreign forces in Afghanistan, including 1,650 Dutch troops.
Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard objected to the use of his drawing of the Prophet Mohammad, saying it was shown out of context and that he had taken legal action to have it removed.
“I think it is a very primitive film with many generalizations of Muslims. My cartoon aims at terrorists who use interpretations of the Koran and Islam as their spiritual dynamite,” Westergaard said.
Additional reporting by Gilbert Kreijger in Rotterdam, Foo Yun Chee and Harro ten Wolde in Amsterdam, Ahmad Pathoni and Telly Nathalia in Jakarta, Hashem Kalantari in Tehran, Augustine Anthony in Islamabad, Martin Burlund in Aarhus, David Brunnstrom in Brussels, writing by Emma Thomasson, editing by Mary Gabriel