New Delhi: Muslims in several countries are protesting a film by a Dutch lawmaker's film, saying it insults the Quran.
Hundreds of Islamists staged angry protests across Pakistan after the release of the film and a militant allegedly linked to al-Qaida's No 2 leader also warned that the film will spark reprisal attacks.
Small groups of demonstrators, mostly followers of hard-line religious groups, rallied in major cities, demanding Pakistan cut diplomatic relations with the Netherlands. A banner at one demonstration read, "We hate the uncivilized West."
The book has verses from the Quran against a background of violent images of terrorist attacks.
These include the 9/11 attacks in the US and the 2004 Madrid train bombings. The film starts and ends with the controversial Danish cartoons on Prophet Mohammad.
Religious activists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia and several European countries took out protest rallies against the film and the Pakistan government said the film deeply offended the sentiments of Muslims all over the world.
The European Union too has made critical observations on the film. But it was defended by Salman Rushdie, who was himself under attack from Islamic fundamentalists after his book Satanic Verses.
AP adds: The 15-minute film by Geert Wilders, who heads a reactionary political party with seats in the Dutch parliament, was posted on a Web site yesterday. It sets verses of the Quran, Islam's holy book, against a background of images from terrorist attacks.
Pakistan's government condemned the " defamatory film, which deeply offended the sentiments of Muslims all over the world." It summoned the Dutch ambassador to lodge a " strong protest."
Protests have been simmering for weeks over the recent republication in Danish newspapers of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, and authorities are concerned the Dutch film could spark the kind of violent unrest that the cartoons originally provoked two years ago.
A militant believed linked to al-Qaida's deputy chief Ayman al-Zawahri told The Associated Press in the northwestern city of Peshawar last week militants would mount revenge attacks against foreigners because of Wilders' film.
"Foreigners will be attacked. The situation will change, change, change," said Qari Mohammed Yusuf, whose also said his two brothers died fighting alongside al-Zawahri.