JACKI LYDEN, host:
Now, a story from the Netherlands. A short film that hasn't even been released yet is causing a lot of commotion in that country and in the Islamic world. Its creator is an extreme right-wing, anti-Islam member of the Dutch Parliament.
Geert Wilders says his film will unveil the Koran as a how-to guide for committing terrorist attacks and other violence.
Gregory Crouch reports from the Dutch town of Venlo.
GREGORY CROUCH: Geert Wilders courts controversy. His party captured six percent of the Dutch vote with promises to ban the Koran and to stop all immigration from Muslim countries. His supporters argue he protects traditional Dutch values. His critics say he exacerbates religious tensions. A prominent trade union leader called Wilders simply evil — a claim he rejects.
Mr. GEERT WILDERS (Member, Dutch Parliamentary): Of course I am not evil. Do I look evil to you? Maybe I do, but I'm not.
CROUCH: The Netherlands is on edge. Few people know for sure what's in Wilders' anti-Koran film but some fear the worst. Iran wants the film banned. The Taliban is threatening Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan. And Pakistan tried to block YouTube before the film's release.
In light of all of this, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen was blunt.
Mr. MAXIME VERHAGEN (Foreign Minister, Netherlands): (Through translator) I find it irresponsible to broadcast this film. That's because Dutch companies, Dutch soldiers and Dutch residents abroad could and will be in danger.
CROUCH: But the foreign minister's statement raised new concerns that Dutch politicians are caving in the threats from fundamentalist Muslims, or, put more strongly, capitulating — a loaded term, given the Dutch surrender to the Nazis.
Hugo van der Parre(ph), deputy editor of the Dutch news program "Nova," sums up the concern of some viewers.
Mr. HUGO VAN DER PARRE (Deputy Editor, "Nova"): Capitulation we see as giving in to foreign powers that try to influence the situation in our country. So if we give in to the needs or the wishes from people abroad - Muslim leaders in the Middle East, for instance - that is a kind of capitulation.
CROUCH: Wilders says his 10 to 15-minute film is finished, but he won't say what's in it. He's currently negotiating with Dutch television networks to broadcast it, but, so far, he hasn't found any takers. Even so, he says he will release the film this month, if necessary, on the Internet.
Mr. WILDERS: My aim with the film is to show the people who watch the film that indeed the Islam and the Koran are part of a fascist ideology that wants to kill everything that we stand for in a modern Western democracy.
CROUCH: One network that won't broadcast Wilders' film is the Dutch Muslim Broadcasting Organization.
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CROUCH: One million in the Netherlands' 16 million residents are Muslim, and this is one of their public television and radio channels. Monique Swaart is a white, non-Muslim reporter at the network. She says some people with backgrounds like hers don't know what to make of changes in Dutch society, much less the current debate about Wilders' film.
Ms. MONIQUE SWART (Reporter, Dutch Muslim Broadcasting Organization): Sometimes they ask me questions — me as a non-Muslim working for a Muslim organization. -will I have to wear a veil in 10 years' time? As homosexuals, can we still walk hand-in-hand on the street?
CROUCH: Those fears were reinforced four years ago when a radical Muslim murdered a Dutch director who had made a film critical of Islam. In Amsterdam, he knocked the director off his bike, shot him repeatedly and then slit his throat.
Monique Swart says Muslims and non-Muslims alike worry that something similar could happen again.
Ms. SWART: People, Muslims, many, are afraid that there will be a person who can't resist the provocation and that something will happen, something awful.
CROUCH: It's a Friday evening in Venlo, Wilders' hometown. Close to a hundred men gather at the Moroccan Cultural Center here. Many view Wilders' film as an incitement to religious hatred.
Mohamed Rabbae(ph) advises everyone to stay calm — whatever the film's content.
Mr. MOHAMED RABBAE (Resident, Venlo): Let Wilders do what he wants to do. Don't attack him. Don't be violent. It is the best way to integrate in this country.
CROUCH: Wilders doesn't live in Venlo anymore. He's the target of numerous death threats and spends his free time in an undisclosed secret location under constant police protection.
For NPR News, I'm Gregory Crouch in Venlo, the Netherlands.
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