Secrecy About Anti-Koran Film Worries Dutch Gov’t

Secrecy about anti-Koran film worries Dutch govt

Emma Thomasson
Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:10pm GMT

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Secrecy about the content and release date of a film about the Koran by a Dutch right-wing politician is making the job of the security services more difficult, the justice minister said on Wednesday.

Ernst Hirsch Ballin told parliament it would be easier to prepare and assess possible risks if the government knew when populist Geert Wilders planned to release his film and what was in it, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

Wilders, who says the Koran is a fascist book that incites violence, has given few details about his 15-minute film, saying only that he plans to release it on the Internet before the end of the month after Dutch broadcasters declined to show it.

Long the target of death threats from Islamic militants, Wilders rejected a plea from Dutch counter-terrorism officials to see the film so they can prepare, saying he would only do so if they would promise not to try to ban it.

The Dutch government has said it fears the same kind of backlash against the Netherlands in the Muslim world as that seen against Denmark after Danish newspapers published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in 2006.

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

The country also fears the same kind of unrest it saw after the 2004 murder of director Theo van Gogh, who made a film critical of Islam's treatment of women.

NATO has also expressed concern the film could make things worse for the 43,000-strong NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, where Dutch and Danish troops are serving.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)