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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 March 2008, 11:54 GMT
Danish PM attacks Islam comments
By Julian Isherwood
BBC News, Copenhagen

Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Mr Rasmussen made clear he did not share Geert Wilders' views
Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has strongly criticised the Dutch MP Geert Wilders, and his plans to release a film which is critical of Islam.

The film has triggered Muslim outrage, even before it has been released.

“I dissociate myself completely from Geert Wilders' points of view, and I must clearly reject Mr Wilders' attempt at associating his views to those of the Danish government," Mr Rasmussen said.

"The government stands guard over the freedom of expression, but I wish to underline once more that we do not share the values and views that Mr Wilders represents.”

Mr Rasmussen's unusual statement on Wednesday came following an interview with the Dutch MP on Danish national television.

During the interview, Mr Wilders praised the Danish prime minister for his stance on freedom of expression, in connection with the publication and re-publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in Danish media.

Outrage caused

The original publication of the Danish caricatures in 2005 – one of which portrayed the Prophet with a bomb in his turban - caused outrage in the Islamic world.

Right-wing Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders plans to release his film on the internet, if necessary
It resulted in Danish diplomatic missions being torched, and a widespread boycott of Danish produce being introduced across the Muslim world.

“I wish we had such a prime minister in Holland,” Mr Wilders said.

“Unfortunately we have a coward who will not stand fast on the constitution's words about freedom of expression, but instead has sided with the Taleban,” he added.

“This proves my point that Islam is a very violent religion.

"If I had made a movie about the bible, I am sure there wouldn't be the sort of thing from the Vatican as the threats from Pakistan and the Mufti of Lebanon, with threats to me and my fellow countrymen,” Mr Wilders said.

"Condescending statements"

Reacting to Mr Wilders' statements, Prime Minister Rasmussen said he opposed any expression, action or indication that attempted to demonise groups of people on the basis of their religion or ethnic backgrounds.

I find these expressions extremely offensive
Anders Fogh Rasmussen

“I strongly condemn Geert Wilders' condescending statements about Muslims.

"I find these expressions extremely offensive.

"They are so insulting that I wish to hear no group in Danish society referred to in such a manner in the public debate.”

Anti-Danish feeling has been rekindled in the Islamic world after 17 Danish publications reprinted cartoons of the Prophet.

This followed the arrest last month of two men accused of plotting to murder the cartoonists responsible for portraying the Prophet with a bomb in his turban.

Denmark has embarked on a widespread diplomatic campaign to explain to governments in the Islamic world, that while it does not agree with the sentiments of Danish cartoons seen as offensive by Muslims, Denmark's strict constitutional laws on freedom of expression make it impossible for the government to intervene.

Internet

In his interview, Mr Wilders said that if he was unable to find anyone who would air his film, it would be put on the internet.

Mr Wilders' film is entitled Fitna, an Arabic word used to describe strife or discord, usually religious.

According to a Dutch daily which has seen some of the footage, the film shows the Koran being opened.

Inside the pages of the book are shown images of atrocities in Muslim countries that the filmmaker thinks are inspired by verses of the Koran.

Mr Wilders, who leads the Dutch Freedom Party, has said his film will show how the Koran is "an inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror".

Mr Wilders has had police protection since Dutch director Theo van Gogh was killed by a radical Islamist in 2004.

Mr van Gogh's film Submission included verses from the Koran, shown against a naked female body.



SEE ALSO
'Substantial' Dutch terror risk
06 Mar 08 |  Europe
Life of slain Dutch film-maker
02 Nov 04 |  Entertainment



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