A short film no one has seen is causing a lot of commotion in the Netherlands and parts of the Islamic world. Its creator is an extreme-right, anti-Islam Dutch Parliament member who compares the Quran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.
Geert Wilders claims his film will unveil the Muslim holy book as a how-to guide for committing terrorist attacks and other violence.
Wilders is no stranger to controversy — in fact, he courts it. His party captured 6 percent of the Dutch vote with promises to ban the Quran and stop all immigration from Muslim countries. His supporters argue he protects traditional Dutch values, while his critics say he exacerbates religious tensions.
A prominent trade union leader called Wilders simply evil — a claim he rejects.
"Of course I am not evil," Wilders says. "Do I look evil to you? Maybe I do, but I'm not."
The Netherlands is on edge. Few people know for sure what is in Wilders' anti-Quran 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.
"I find it irresponsible to broadcast this film," he said. "That's because Dutch companies, Dutch soldiers and Dutch residents abroad could and will be in danger."
Concerns About Capitulation
But the foreign minister's statement raised new concerns that Dutch politicians are caving in to threats from fundamentalist Muslims, or, put more strongly, capitulating — a loaded term, given the Dutch surrender to the Nazis.
Hugo van der Parre, deputy editor of the Dutch news program Nova, sums up the concern of some viewers.
"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, from Muslim leaders in the Middle East, for instance, that is a kind of capitulation," he says.
Wilders says his 10-15 minute film is finished, but he won't say what's in it. He is 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 — on the Internet, if necessary.
"My aim with the film is to show the people who watch the film that indeed the Islam and the Quran are part of a fascist ideology that wants to kill everything we stand for in a modern Western democracy," he says.
Fears of Violence
One network that won't broadcast Wilders' entire film is the Dutch Muslim Broadcasting Organization — one of the public television and radio channels that serve the 1 million Muslim residents of the Netherlands, a country of 16 million people.
Monique Swaart, a white, non-Muslim reporter at the network, 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.
"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?'" Swaart says.
Those fears were reinforced four years ago when a radical Muslim murdered a Dutch director who had made a film critical of Islam. He knocked the director off his bike in Amsterdam, shot him repeatedly and then slit his throat.
Swaart says Muslims and non-Muslims alike worry that something similar could happen again.
"People, Muslims, many, are afraid that there will be a person who can't resist the provocation and that something will happen, something awful," she says.
On a Friday evening in Venlo, Wilders' hometown, nearly a hundred men gather at the Moroccan Cultural Center. Many view Wilders' film as an incitement to religious hatred.
Mohamed Rabbae advises everyone to stay calm — whatever the film's content.
"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," he says.
Wilders doesn't live in Venlo anymore. The target of numerous death threats, Wilders spends his free time in a secret location under constant police protection.