Leander Schaerlaeckens, Washington Times, March 7, 2008
BRUSSELS—Private and public television stations have refused to air the anti-Muslim film “Fitna” by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, fearing a violent backlash that prompted the government to raise its terror threat level yesterday.
“I had hoped that a television broadcaster would say: ‘You have the right to do this, we will give you a podium’,” he told Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad.
A Justice Ministry statement said, “While there are no concrete indications of impending attacks in the Netherlands, the increased international terrorism threat has prompted [us] to raise the threat level for the Netherlands.”
Mr. Wilders, who leads a small anti-immigration party, claims in his 15-minute film that the Koran is a fascist book and the basis of modern-day terrorism.
He set up a Web site (www.fitnathemovie.com) and tentatively scheduled an airing for the press on March 28, when he expects to post the movie online.
The Taliban has threatened to target 1,600 Dutch soldiers stationed in the country if the movie is shown.
The government is reluctant to set a precedent against freedom of expression, but is worried about a violent backlash and economic repercussions.
The film has provoked official condemnations from Iran, Bangladesh and Pakistan and sparked several demonstrations in Afghanistan.
The Taliban announced on its Web site that it will not tolerate the “Crusader war” waged through “Fitna” and the reprinted Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.