A Dutch court has refused to grant an injunction against a politician's anti-Islam film, whose release on the internet last month sparked protest across the Muslim world.
Lawyers representing the Netherlands Islamic Federation had sought an injunction to end the broadcast of right-wing legislator Geert Wilders's film, Fitna, saying it was insulting to Muslims.
A civil judge at The Hague district court said in his ruling, however, that Wilders's right to free speech permits him to publicly criticize radical Islam and passages of the Qur'an.
The film quotes verses of the holy Islamic text alongside footage of terrorist attacks in the United States and Spain, at times showing graphic footage of bloody, mutilated bodies set to music, and even a beheading of a Caucasian man by men garbed in black.
"The government insists that you respect Islam, but Islam has no respect for you. Islam wants to rule, submit, and seeks to destroy our Western civilization," says text appearing near the film's end that eventually calls on Europeans to defeat the ideology of Islam.
The film ends with a caricature of Muhammad, his head drawn in the shape of a bomb that explodes into a crack of thunder and lightning.
Its release on the internet at the end of March prompted protests in Pakistan, Indonesia and Afghanistan, and denunciations from Muslim leaders in Egypt and Sudan.
Although an American internet service provider suspended the film's website following a number of complaints, the film was still available on the internet for a short time through video-sharing websites such as LiveLeak.com.
The British-based website removed the film after it was posted, however, because of what it called "serious threats" to its staff.
For his part, Wilders — a well-known anti-Islamist who has called for a stop to immigration from Muslim countries and a halt to the building of new mosques in his country — has said he's not against Muslims but against their faith.
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said he rejects Wilders's views, but supports his freedom of speech.
In 2004 controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death outside a government building following the TV broadcast of his film, which portrayed violent treatment of women in Muslim society.