31/ 03/ 2008
JAKARTA, March 31 (RIA Novosti) – Indonesian and Malaysian officials have demanded the banning of a film that juxtaposes verses from Islam’s holy book, the Koran, with graphic images of violence.
The 16-minute film, entitled ‘Fitna’ – an Arabic word meaning ‘strife’ or ‘division among people’ – was posted on the U.K.-based video website Liveleak on Thursday evening. It was made by Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who had earlier announced that his film would show that the Koran is “a fascist book” that justifies murder.
Agung Laksono, the speaker of the Indonesian parliament, urged the government to ban the film, warning that it could provoke clashes in multiethnic Indonesia, the world’s largest majority-Muslim country.
Kristiarto Legowo, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the “Indonesian government decisively condemns this provocation, insulting to both Islam and Muslims.”
“We also regard the film’s release as an irresponsible act, committed under the cover of freedom of expression,” he added.
Rais Yatim, the foreign minister of neighboring Malaysia, where Islam is the state religion, said Fitna demonstrated gross disregard and disrespect for Islam.
“If his [Wilders] goal was to score political points in his country, he has clearly made a big mistake,” he said. “He must bear full responsibility for the posting of the film, as well as for the consequences of his actions.”
He said Malaysia expected the Dutch government to take appropriate measures.
The short film begins with an image of the notorious 2006 Danish cartoon portraying the Prophet Mohammed with an explosive device on his head. The cartoon caused riots throughout the world after demonstrators attacked Danish embassies and other buildings with perceived links to the West. More than 100 people died in the violence. There were also protests against the reprinting of the cartoon in 2008.
Both NATO and the EU had earlier expressed concern over the film, with NATO saying it feared that Dutch troops in Afghanistan would now become a target for ‘revenge’ attacks. The Dutch government has also raised its national terrorist warning level in response to the film’s release.
Fitna contains footage of radical Imams calling for the slaughter of Jews and other disbelievers as well as a Muslim holding a “God bless Hitler” placard. However, although the intention of the film was to ‘discredit’ Islam by showing the links between verses in the Koran and violence, many commentators have suggested that the film resembles nothing more than the clips frequently aired on radical Islamic websites.
Although moderate Islamic groups have said the film is “nothing new” and have made appeals for Muslims to “react calmly and within the law,” the prospect of a backlash in the Islamic world remains a distinct possibility.
The film also makes reference to the Dutch director, Theo van Gogh, who was murdered in Amsterdam after making another controversial ‘anti-Islam’ film in 2004. However, no violence has been reported in the Netherlands in connection with the release of Fitna.