Dutch face 'substantial' terror threat over new film on Islam

Emma Thomasson
Friday 07 March 2008 01:00
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The Netherlands has raised its national risk level of a terrorist attack to "substantial" before the launch of a film made by a right-wing politician that is expected to be critical of the Koran.

The Dutch counter-terrorism agency said, in a report to parliament, that its new threat assessment was also influenced by arrests elsewhere in Europe. These are said to have thwarted attacks by groups directed or influenced by al-Qa'ida in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The threat level was also set at "substantial" when religious and racial tensions simmered after an Islamic militant killed Theo Van Gogh in 2004. The director had made a film in which he accused Islam of condoning violence against women.

The government is warning that the latest film, due to be released this month by Geert Wilders, might spark unrest and sanctions similar to those triggered when Danish newspapers published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohamed in 2006.

Mr Wilders has given few details about the film he is calling Fitna, an Arabic word used in the Koran and translated as "strife". He calls the Koran a "fascist" book that incites violence and says it should be banned.

The counter-terrorism agency said the way Islam was debated in the Netherlands had raised the country's profile in Muslim countries. It noted death threats against Mr Wilders and calls to attack Dutch troops.

A poll on Wednesday showed that a majority of Dutch people wanted the film to be broadcast.

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