A Dutch Muslim group has asked a court to appoint experts to view a film about Islam in order to find a reason for it to be banned. On Saturday, March 22, protestors in Amsterdam demonstrated against the film's maker.
Geert Wilders routinely compares the Koran with Hitler's "Mein Kampf"
Far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders plans to release a film attacking Islam and the Koran, despite complaints from religious groups and warnings that it could provoke violent protests around the world.
On Friday, March 21, the Netherlands Islamic Federation asked a court in The Hague to set up a panel of censors to review the film, in order to discover if there is any reason for it to be banned.
The Dutch government, while calling on Wilders to abandon his project, has previously said there is no legal way to censor a film before it appears.
The court will rule on the association's request by March 28. Wilders has said that he will release the film "before April 1," posting it on the Internet if he fails to find a broadcaster willing
to carry it.
Wilders said in November that the 15-minute film would show the Koran was a "fascist book," a claim which has already drawn complaints from several Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Iran and Afghanistan.
Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom
Dutch officials have unsuccessfully urged him to drop the project, fearing a repeat of the violent protests that erupted in many countries when European newspapers printed cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed.
The case has also recalled that of Dutch filmmaker and polemicist Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered by an Islamic extremist in Amsterdam in 2004 after he made a short film attacking Islam's treatment of women.
Protests in Amsterdam
Several thousand people participated in a rally in Amsterdam on Saturday, March 22, against Wilders. The rally, an initiative of the anti-racism organisation Nederland Bekent Kleur, or "Netherlands Shows Its Colors," was to protest the "intolerant and discriminatory viewpoints" of the Dutch opposition legislator.
"I'm very much against Geert Wilders and racism in general, but I think it's really important to show not only Holland but the rest of the world that there's a lot of people who do not agree with his ideas,2 demonstrator Elisa Trepp told the Associated Press.
Many fear widespread protests against the film such as those in the wake of the Mohammed caricatures
Earlier some 5,000 Dutch nationals signed a petition against Wilders.
Wilders is the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, which runs on a platform of harsh criticism of Islam and immigrants. His party holds nine seats in the 150-member Dutch parliament.
Ever since he announced he would make a film about the Koran in November, he has been in the headlines in Holland and captured international media attention.