Dutch reaction is mixed after 'Fitna' hits Net
EmptyHolland's prime minister roundly condemned the anti-Muslim film "Fitna" on Thursday within hours of its appearance on a Web site in the Netherlands.
The country's cabinet went into a crisis meeting directly after the "debut" of the controversial film by right wing politician Geert Wilders as police formed a security cordon around the Dutch Parliament building in the Hague.
"Fitna" links verses of the Quran to a background of violent images from terrorist attacks.
Wilders had been unable to get his film posted on the Web or broadcast, but at 7 p.m. Dutch time Thursday his political party PVV put a link to the 15-minute short on its Web site. English- and Dutch-language versions were posted at www.pvv.nl via a link to LiveLeak.com. No TV channels aired the film.
Local media immediately swarmed over the story with widespread speculation about the possible impact of the film's release. The Dutch government had warned Wilders that a film offensive to Muslims could spark protests in Islamic countries as violent as those two years ago after European newspapers published cartoons of Mohammed.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said Thursday night that the Department of Justice will investigate whether Wilders has broken Dutch law with his attack on the Quran. Balkenende condemned the film as "out to hurt" the Dutch people.
The immediate reaction from the Muslim community in Holland appeared constrained regarding the bow of "Fitna," which combines images of Sept. 11, the London and Madrid attacks and the murder of Dutch director Theo van Gogh with quotes from the Quran. Many local Muslim organizations reacted with moderation, saying it did not put forward any new views that could insult Muslims in the Netherlands.
Members of the Dutch Parliament had mixed views. The Christian-democratic party CDA condemned it for not helping immigration issues in the Dutch community. The Green Party (Groen Links) called it an "anti-climax." The Liberal VVD, the party that Wilders left some years ago, was disappointed that "Fitna" did not offer any solutions.
"Fitna's" appearance after months of controversy brought a wave of traffic to the PVV site. Within two hours of the posting, about 1.6 million viewers had clicked on the film. The English version attracted an audience of 800,000.
Wilders told reporters that he made the film because "Islam and the Quran are dangers to the preservation of freedom in the Netherlands in the long term, and I have to warn people of that."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.