AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – About one thousand people protested in central Amsterdam on Saturday against right-wing lawmaker Geert Wilders and the imminent release of his film expected to be critical of the Koran.
Anti-racism protesters clad in winter clothing against the freezing cold and drizzling rain held placards that said “Enough is enough” and “Stop the witch-hunt against Muslims.”
Pop and hip-hop groups entertained the crowd in between speeches by social groups.
“We can no longer remain silent. There is a climate of hate and fear in the Netherlands,” said spokesman Rene Danen from anti-racism organization Nederland Bekent Kleur (the Netherlands recognizes color differences), which had organized the protest.
There should be restrictions on what Wilders can say, said Rieke, a 61-year-old Amsterdam arts teacher who declined to give her last name.
“I think it is embarrassing what Wilders says, for example about tearing up the Koran. It is a very bad example to people to let him say whatever he wants,” she said.
Wilders’ film has already triggered fury in the Muslim world. The Dutch government has distanced itself from his views, fearing a backlash against the country amongst Muslims similar to that against Denmark in 2006 after newspapers there published the Prophet Mohammad cartoons.
Wilders, who has given few details about his 15-minute film, has said he plans to release “Fitna” on the Internet before the end of the month after Dutch broadcasters declined to show it. Fitna is a Koranic term sometimes translated as “strife.”
“The film is not so much about Muslims as about the Koran and Islam. The Islamic ideology has as its utmost goal the destruction of what is most dear to us, our freedom,” he wrote in a commentary in Dutch daily De Volkskrant on Saturday.
“Fitna is the last warning for the West. The fight for freedom has only just begun,” he said.
Wilders had previously warned of a “tsunami of Islamisation” in the Netherlands, home to almost one million Muslims.
He has been under guard due to Islamic death threats since the 2004 murder of Dutch director Theo van Gogh, who made a film critical of Islam’s treatment of women.