It came as Muslim leaders, including Egypt's Grand Imam Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, warned of 'severe consequences' following the release of Fitna, which means "strife" or "discord" in Arabic. The film could be viewed via Websites that included http://www.fok.nl/mirror/fitna.html andhttp://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3369102968312745410 , BosNewsLife established.
"Unless there are ulterior motives at play, the position of the Dutch MP betrays a deep ignorance about Islam and the Koran", Tantawi said in remarks published Friday, March 28, but news website Menassat.com.
Tantawi is a leading spiritual authority for the world's Sunni Muslims. "A single member of parliament in the Netherlands insults one-and-a-half billion Muslims. That is intolerable," he reportedly said earlier. Tantawi is the Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque and the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, which are connected. Al-Azhar is one of the most prestigious Sunni Muslim institutions and issues Islamic decrees, or 'fatwas', and provides formal interpretations of statements about Islam.
Negative reactions have also come from Iran, Jordan and Indonesia at a time when in those three countries Christians have complained about increased pressure on them, BosNewsLife monitored. The Indonesian authorities referred to the Netherlands' colonial past in Indonesia as an additional reason why it should be careful not to open old wounds. A section of the Jordanian media has started legal action against Wilders and is calling for a boycott of Dutch
In Pakistan meanwhile dozens of angry Muslims in the southern city of Karachi protested the release of Fitna, with members of the hard-line Islamist party Jamaat-i-Islami chanting "Death to the filmmaker" and demanding that the government sever diplomatic ties with The Netherlands, reports said.
The Pakistani government also lodged a strong protest with the Netherlands, summoning the Dutch ambassador to Pakistan to condemn what it called the "defamatory" film. Protests have erupted in Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent weeks in anticipation of the film's release and after the reprinting of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Danish newspapers.
The Dutch government has strongly criticized the film, however it also cited the freedom of speech in the Netherlands. The European Union condemned the film while United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday, March 28, there could be no justification for what he called "instilling hatred or incitement to violence."
Geert Wilders defended the film to reporters saying he wanted to launch a debate on what he called the "izlamization" of the Netherlands, which has long Christian traditions. He praised Dutch Muslims for their "calm reaction" towards the film so far. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende had earlier warned of "a crisis" if the Wilders film would be released.
Fitna details what it calls "hateful verses" of the Koran, stressing the books' alleged promotion of violence against non-Muslims, including Christians and Jews. Running at just over 16 minutes, it begins with a warning about shocking images to follow, then gives a glimpse of the most infamous of the 12 "Mohammed" cartoons published by Danish newspapers in 2005 -- the one depicting the prophet's turban as a bomb with a lit fuse.
A digital clock starts ticking down, and a translation of a verse from the Koran (sura 8:30) appears: "Prepare for them whatever force and cavalry ye are capable of gathering to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies ..." Newsclips then show hijacked planes being flown into New York's World Trade Center in September 2001, people fleeing in fear, falling bodies, and a voiceover of a phone conversation with a terrified person inside the building.
Scenes of Islamist bombing attacks in Madrid (March 2004) and London (July 2005) follow, as do images of victims' bodies, interlaced with quotations by radical Arab and Iranian clerics. "What makes Allah happy?" one asks. "Allah is happy when non-Muslims get killed ..." Declares another: "Annihilate the infidels and the polytheists ... Allah, count them and kill them to the last one."
"We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again," a preacher tells his congregants. "The day will come when we will rule America." The film also shows a three-year-old Muslim girl saying Jews are "apes and pigs," images of protesting Muslims holding signs such as "Be prepared for the real Holocaust" and "God bless Hitler," and a clip showing terrorists beheading a Western hostage in Iraq.
Among the scenes featured is one of Albanian Muslims desecrating a church in Kosovo, taken from a video posted by Cybercast News Service in 2005. Serbian Orthodox Christians have said they fear more attacks following the independence of Kosovo, which Serbia regards as the cradle of its religion and culture. Wilders' film features fragments of interviews with the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, a critic of Islamism who was murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004, and newspaper headlines relating to Islamic death threats against others, including British author Salman Rushdie, former Dutch lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Wilders himself.
Interspersed with the images are other verses from the Koran, including 4: 56 ("Those who have disbelieved our signs, we shall roast them in fire"); 47:4 ("Therefore, when ye meet the unbelievers, smite at their necks ..."); and 8:39 ("Fight them until there is no dissension and the religion is entirely Allah's").
Wilders then turns to his own country, which he says is "under the spell of Islam." The film notes that the number of Muslims there has risen over the past century from 54,000 to 944,000 in 2004, having more than doubled in number since 1990 alone. The total population of the Netherlands is around 16 million.
Towards the end, the film shows a hand turning a page of an Arabic Koran. Over a blank screen, a ripping noise follows, and then the words, "The sound you heard was a page being removed from the phonebook. For it is not up to me, but for Muslims themselves, to tear out the hateful verses from the Koran." Wilders ends by noting that Nazism was crushed in 1945 and Communism fell in 1989. "Now," he concludes, "the Islamic ideology has to be defeated."
Fearing revenge attacks against religious minorities, a Dutch Christian and Muslim delegation has visited Egypt this week in what they said was is a damage-limitation effort. They said churches and the Muslim communities in the Netherlands, along with most of the population, oppose the views of Wilders, but stressed that the right to freedom of speech prevents the Dutch authorities from banning Fitna.