“The Dutch ‘apology’ appears to stem from a press conference given by Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende on Thursday, during which he called on Wilders to rethink releasing the film because of the potential fall-out.”
CAIRO (AFP) “” An Egyptian festival on Sunday went back on its decision to ban a Dutch film after what it said was a Dutch government apology for a short film attacking Islam directed by a far-right MP.
“Far-right”: Often, this is Media-speak for “drives on sidewalks, scares children, and makes Cratchit work on Christmas.”
“After the apology of the (Dutch) cabinet … the committee agreed in less than a minute to take the film back into the festival,” Naem al-Baz of the Cairo International Film Festival for Children told AFP.
The festival had on Thursday decided to ban the children’s film, “Where is Sinterklass’ Horse?”, because of a planned film by Dutch far-right member of parliament Geert Wilders widely expected to antagonise the Islamic world.
If the film ban had stood, it would have been the first punitive action taken by a Muslim country in response to Wilders’ film, which the MP has said he will show on the Internet in March.
The Dutch “apology” appears to stem from a press conference given by Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende on Thursday, during which he called on Wilders to rethink releasing the film because of the potential fall-out.
Three Dutch business confederations on Thursday also called on Wilders not to show the film as “it will cause great risks for Dutch businesses and their employees abroad.”
Balkenende asked Wilders to take into account the possibility of there being a violent reaction to his film in the Muslim world, similar to that which followed the publication by a Danish newspaper of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.
While defending what he called Dutch values of freedom and respect, Balkenende distanced his government from Wilders’ film.
“We have fundamental differences of opinion with” Wilders, Balkenende said. “It is our responsibility to Wilders to point to the possible consequences of his actions. Freedom does not absolve anyone of responsibility.
Is there no responsibility for self-control, and non-violent reaction?
“To ensure the safety of Dutch citizens and businesses abroad … for our international reputation, we call on (Wilders) to take all these aspects into account for his decision” on whether to show the film or not.
Afghanistan’s extremist Taliban movement warned last week it would step up attacks against Dutch soldiers if the “insulting” film was broadcast.
The film, which lasts about 15 minutes, is called “Fitna”, which in Arabic means sedition, or division, in the heart of Islam.
According to a Dutch newspaper that has seen early rushes, the film’s structure links images of current bloodletting in Muslim countries to chapters of the Koran.
It ends with an image of the Prophet Mohammed which in itself is provocative — Muslims consider any depiction of Mohammed to be blasphemous.