The Free Press Society of 2004, a Danish press freedom group, said that it has invited Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders to talk about his anti-Quran film _Fitna.’ Lars Hedegaard, president of the society, said the invitation to Wilders should not be seen as a provocation against Muslims, but as an opening to address the debate on the right of free speech. “He has been badmouthed and persecuted by almost everyone in Europe,” Hedegaard said of the right-wing lawmaker. “He has not committed a crime as far as I know. He has simply voiced his opinion,” Hedegaard said. A response to the invitation by Wilders has not yet been made public.
A Dutch court announced that it will hear a complaint lodged by Muslim groups seeking to stop Geert Wilders from releasing a film criticizing the Quran. Hague District Court spokesperson Paula Koning said that the complaint filed by the Dutch Islamic Federation will be heard on March 28th. No legal barriers prevent Wilders from releasing his film before this date. The 15-minute movie is expected to be released by the end of the month, and available for viewing on the film’s website.
The prime minister of the Netherlands said he had won broad support from EU leaders concerning the expected release of an anti-Quran film by Dutch lawmaker and Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders. Balkenende said other EU countries are supporting the Netherlands’ view that it cannot silence Wilders due to the constitutional right to freedom of expression. However, Dutch and other European officials fear that the film could spark violent protests in Muslim countries. Among those in solidarity include Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who said the Dutch could expect full backing by fellow EU member states.
Yemeni Minister of Endowments and Religious Guidance Hamour al-Hitar has formally demanded that the Dutch government ban an inflammatory anti-Quran film. Al-Hitar has discussed the issue with ambassador of the Netherlands Harry Buikema, and called for the exertion and coordination of international efforts to prevent the defamation of religion in order to avoid tense situations.