March 14, 2008 / 6:55 AM / 10 years ago

Indonesia says Dutch anti-Koran film threatens harmony

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, warned on Friday that a film made by a Dutch lawmaker that is expected to be critical of the Koran could derail interfaith dialogue and threaten peace.

Dutch right wing politician Geert Wilders speaks during an interview with Reuters Television inside the Dutch Parliament in The Hague, March 3, 2005. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, a right-wing politician who has called for Islam’s holy text to be banned, plans to show his 15-minute film later this month despite mounting protests.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has warned that the Netherlands risks economic sanctions and attacks on its citizens and businesses should the film be broadcast.

Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Kristiarto Legowo said that Wilders should not insist on releasing the film if it was going to offend Muslims.

“We have always been active in promoting interfaith dialogue, which we believe can contribute to global stability, security and peace,” Legowo told a weekly media briefing.

Wilders’ film “will serve as a new obstacle to the efforts that we and other countries have initiated. We don’t want this to happen”, he said.

In 2006, demonstrations and rioting erupted in many Muslim countries after cartoons, one showing the Prophet Mohammad with a turban resembling a bomb, appeared in a Danish newspaper. At least 50 people were killed and three Danish embassies attacked.

Wilders, who is the target of death threats on Islamic militant Web sites, has given few details about his film.

He said last week he was disappointed that no Dutch broadcaster wanted to show it, but that he would probably launch the film on March 28 at the parliament’s press centre in the Hague and make it available on the Internet.

Wilders’ party has nine of the 150 seats in the Dutch parliament and has gained support in recent opinion polls. He has warned of a “tsunami of Islamisation” in a country that is home to nearly 1 million Muslims.

Turkey, Iran and Pakistan have also criticised the film.

In 2004 the Netherlands was plunged into turmoil when an Islamic militant killed director Theo Van Gogh over a television film accusing Islam of condoning violence against women.

Wilders, who has likened the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, has called his film “Fitna”, an Arabic term used in the Koran and sometimes translated as “strife”.

Reporting by Ahmad Pathoni; Editing by Ed Davies and Alex Richardson

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