Youth groups to tackle controversial Dutch film – Turkish Daily News Jan 24, 2008

Youth organizations mobilize to tackle the possible reactions against Dutch right-winger’s movie that denounces the Koran. In light of the crisis sparked by the publication of cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in a Danish newspaper two years ago, this movie might cause another crisisONUR BURÇAK BELL?
ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News

Youth organizations from Turkey and around the world called on the United Nations to take action against the scheduled broadcast of an anti-Muslim film in Holland by a radical right-wing politician this week.

The Organization for Islamic Conference Youth Forum (ICYF-DC) and European and Asian Youth Forums sent a letter to Ban Ki-Moon, secretary general of the U.N., asking him to not allow the screening of what was described as an anti-Islamic film produced by a Dutch politician, claiming it “reflects insulting views about the holy Koran” and showing it being torn up or otherwise desecrated.

?We think that the broadcasting of this film should be suspended until independent international agents can review it and determine whether it contains a criminal offence or not,? Elshad Iskandarov, secretary general of the ICYF-DC, told the Turkish Daily News, emphasizing that that they have no solid knowledge of the controversial film’s content. ?But if it is as described, this film will harm the Alliance of Civilizations greatly,? he added.

Iskandarov said this is not only a problem or an issue of concern to Muslim populations but also for everyone who wants all populations to live together with no tension, and with a better understanding in a peaceful world.

?We have made calls to several organizations to discuss and decide for precautionary measures in order not to leave space for meaningless clashes,? he said.

The organization is now waiting for an answer from the U.N. secretary general before taking any actions. Organizations want the conflict that the film’s controversial subject will create to be overcome without having to step backwards from all the promising steps provided by the Alliance Of Civilizations, an international forum aimed at reducing tension between the Islamic world and the West, Iskandarov said.

Film alerts Dutch government

Dutch diplomats are already trying to prevent international reaction. ?It is difficult to anticipate the content of the film, but freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend,? said Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, who was in Madrid to attend a meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other towns with large Muslim populations, imams say they have had to calm growing anger in their communities.

?The Dutch government knows nothing about the film yet, but is disturbed by the information Mr. Wilders himself provided during an interview,? Tom van Oorschot, deputy head of mission of the Dutch Embassy in Ankara, told the TDN.

He added that his government has shared its concerns with Wilders and that everything has been done to prepare in advance for an escalation of the debate. The ministers also stressed that under Dutch law everyone has the right to express their views, within the legal boundaries, without prior vetting, van Oorschot said.

He said that the government has already distanced itself in the most forceful terms from Wilders’ proposal to ban the Koran in the Netherlands. Cabinet ministers and officials, fearing similar crisis as the one sparked by the publication of cartoons of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper two years ago, have held a series of crisis meetings and ordered counter-terrorist services to draw up security plans.

From her self-imposed exile in Washington, Hirsi Ali last week reportedly criticized the new film as a ”provocation” and called on the major Dutch political parties to restart a debate on immigration that has split Dutch society in recent years and not leave the field to extremists.

Wilders announced his plans last November, saying he was making a film to show the violent and fascist elements of the Muslim faith.