Wilders’ short film sparks controversy

Broadcasters worried about portrayal of Islam

Short films are often regarded as mere diversions, but an as-yet-unseen 10-minute pic by politician Geert Wilders is forcing Dutch broadcasters to confront some thorny issues over the portrayal of Islam.

Airing it could provoke a crisis similar to the one that followed the publication of the Danish cartoons that depicted the prophet Mohammed two years ago.

The Netherlands has already been the focus of extremist violence, including the 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a radical Muslim angered by van Gogh’s pic “Submission,” which showed texts from the Koran written on a naked woman.

Despite this, Wilders is in talks with pubcaster Nederland 1’s “EenVandaag” and Nederland 2’s “Nova” and “Netwerk” plus high-brow current affairs channel Het Gesprek to air the pic in some form. The shows may demand the right to cut the pic or run it alongside balancing reports.

If all else fails, expect to see the pic on YouTube.

Wilders, the leader of the right-wing Freedom Party, says his pic will show that the Koran is “a source of inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror.”

Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun says Wilders “is inciting war and bloodshed,” adding, “It is the responsibility of the Dutch people to stop Wilders.”

Last week, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende revealed the government was preparing for repercussions if the film is broadcast.

Wilders claims the government’s anti-terrorism chief warned him he might have to leave the country if the film is shown.

Last year, Wilders, who has been under police protection since Van Gogh’s murder, tried to have the Koran banned in the Netherlands, and compared it with Adolf Hilter’s “Mein Kampf.”