Page last updated at 19:00 GMT, Friday, 28 March 2008

UN chief condemns anti-Islam film

Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders has called Islam's holy book a "fascist" text

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned a controversial film on Islam made by a Dutch politician, calling it "offensively anti-Islamic".

Several Muslim countries have also condemned the film, a 15-minute polemic by the far-right MP Geert Wilder, which was posted online on Thursday.

Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran and Bangladesh were among those to protest.

The film sets verses from the Koran against a background of violent images from terror attacks.

"I condemn, in the strongest terms, the airing of Geert Wilders' offensively anti-Islamic film," Mr Ban said in a statement.

"The right of free expression is not at stake here," he added. "Freedom must always be accompanied by social responsibility."

The EU's Slovenian presidency said the film served no purpose other than "inflaming hatred".


In Pakistan there were small protests in several places on Friday against the film, while the government summoned the Dutch ambassador in Islamabad to lodge a protest.

Protests against Dutch MP's film in Karachi, 28 Mar 2008

The country's foreign ministry said the film was defamatory and "deeply offended" Muslim sentiments.

Pakistan said it told the Dutch ambassador that it was incumbent on the Netherlands to prosecute Mr Wilders for defamation and deliberately hurting Muslim sentiments, the official Associated Press of Pakistan news agency reported.

The world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, also condemned the film, saying it was "misleading and full of racism".

The foreign ministry in Bangladesh issued a statement calling the film "unwarranted" and "mindless".

Iran said it was blasphemous, anti-Islamic and heinous - a sign it said of deep hatred felt by Westerners towards Muslims.

In the Netherlands, Mr Wilders has said he is happy with what he sees as the relatively positive domestic reaction to his film.

But the Dutch prime minister said the film wrongly equated Islam with violence.

"We reject this interpretation," Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said shortly before its publication.

"The vast majority of Muslims reject extremism and violence and in fact the victims are often also Muslims."

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