The Dutch government is bracing itself for violent protests following the scheduled broadcast this week of a provocative anti-Muslim film by a radical right-wing politician who has threatened to broadcast images of the Quran being torn up and otherwise desecrated.
Cabinet ministers and officials, fearing a repetition of the crisis sparked by the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper two years ago, have held a series of crisis meetings and ordered counter-terrorist services to draw up security plans.
Dutch nationals overseas have been asked to register with their embassies and local mayors in the Netherlands have been put on standby.
Geert Wilders, one of nine members of the extremist VVD (Freedom) party in the 150-seat Dutch lower house, has promised that his film will be broadcast - on television or on the Internet - whatever the pressure may be. It will, he claims, reveal the Koran as "source of inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror".
Dutch diplomats are already trying to pre-empt international reaction.
"It is difficult to anticipate the content of the film, but freedom of expression doesn't mean the right to offend," said Maxime Verhagen, the Foreign Minister, who was in Madrid to attend the Alliance of Civilizations, an international forum aimed at reducing tensions between the Islamic world and the West. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other towns with large Muslim populations, imams say they have needed to 'calm down' growing anger in their communities.
Government officials hope that no mainstream media organization will agree to show the film, although one publicly funded channel, Nova, initially agreed before pulling out.
Source: China Daily/Agencies