British-based LiveLeak.com, which was the first website to post the anti-Quran film by Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, has removed the film after threats to its staff “of a very serious nature,” it said. “This is a sad day for freedom of speech on the net but we have to place the safety and well-being of our staff above all else,” the company said in a statement posted on its website (www.liveleak.com).
On Friday, Iran called for quick intervention by the Dutch and British governments to end the screening of the film.
Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration Freedom Party, launched his film Fitna on Thursday. Fitna in Arabic means ‘Challenge’ and the 17-minute film opens with a warning: “This film contains very shocking images.”
Various verses of the Quran are then juxtaposed with images of terror attacks such as 9/11 and the London bombings. Powerful images of placards saying “God bless Hitler” and sound bytes spewing venom against the West and other religions are spliced together.
The film even has a section titled “Netherlands under the spell of Islam” that shows the rising numbers of Muslims in the country in recent years and gory visuals of beheadings and executions in the Middle East region.
Towards the end, the Quran fills the screen and a hand tries to rip off a page. Then text rolls on the screen: “The sound you heard was a page being removed from the phone book. For it is not up to me, but to Muslims themselves to tear out the hateful verses from the Quran. Muslims want you to make way for Islam but Islam does not make way for you... Islam wants to rule seek, submit and destroy western civilisation…”
Muslim nations on Friday condemned the film while Dutch Muslim leaders urged restraint. Late on Friday two cars were set on fire in the town of Utrecht in a protest against the film, a police spokesman said. He said four young men had used the film as an excuse to cause unrest. “We don’t have the impression it was a coordinated action.” The men also wrote anti-Wilders slogans on garbage containers.
News of ‘small protests’ in Pakistan against the film trickled in through the day. The Associated Press of Pakistan reported that the Dutch Ambassador to Pakistan had been summoned and a protest lodged with him against film.
He was reportedly told that it was incumbent on the Netherlands to prosecute Wilders for defamation and deliberately hurting Muslim sentiments.
Indonesia, with the most number of Muslims, was reported as calling the film “misleading and full of racism” while Bangladesh termed it “unwarranted” and “mindless”.
The website of the Freedom Party (www.pvv.nl) crashed shortly after launching the film on Thursday. On Saturday it was online with links to the film on the Dutch website FOK! and Google.
FOK! said in a statement on the website it was merely mirroring the film. “Mirroring this film does not mean we condone or agree with this film, the contents of this film or Geert Wilders’ opinion on Islam in any way.”
Wilders’ film urges Muslims to tear out “hate-filled” verses from the Quran and starts and ends with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb under his turban, accompanied by the sound of ticking. The cartoon, first published in Danish newspapers, ignited violent protests around the world and a boycott of Danish products in 2006.
Dutch director Theo van Gogh, who made a film accusing Islam of condoning violence against women, was murdered by a militant Islamist in 2004.