UN SG condemns ‘offensively anti-Islamic’ film, calls for calm response

UN SG condemns ‘offensively anti-Islamic’ film, calls for calm response

[JURIST] UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] Friday condemned a film made by far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders [personal website, in Dutch] that criticizes the Koran, calling it "offensively anti-Islamic." In a statement [text], Ban said:

I condemn, in the strongest terms, the airing of Geert Wilders' offensively anti-Islamic film. There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence. The right of free expression is not at stake here. I acknowledge the efforts of the Government of the Netherlands to stop the broadcast of this film, and appeal for calm to those understandably offended by it. Freedom must always be accompanied by social responsibility.

The United Nations is the centre of the world's efforts to advance mutual respect, understanding and dialogue. We must also recognize that the real fault line is not between Muslim and Western societies, as some would have us believe, but between small minorities of extremists on different sides with a vested interest in stirring hostility and conflict.

The film, titled "Fitna," has not yet found a television network to air the video due to high security costs, but Wilders released the video via his website late Thursday evening. It has since been suspended by network administrators following complaints. The UN News Centre has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

Kurt Westergaard, one of the Danish cartoonists who drew the caricatures [Le Monde slideshow; JURIST news archive] of the Prophet Muhammad that sparked worldwide protests in 2005, announced plans Friday to sue Wilders for copyright infringement [JURIST report] for reproducing Westergaard's cartoon in the film. On Thursday, a lawyer lodged a police complaint [Dutch News report] against the film, arguing that it violates the law by linking the Muslim population in the Netherlands to the increasing violence in the country. Last week, a district court in the Netherlands agreed to hear a lawsuit [JURIST report] filed by the Dutch Islamic Federation seeking to ban the release of Wilders' film because it criticizes the Koran.