Authorities in the Netherlands reported calm Friday following the release of an anti-Islamic film posted on the internet by a Dutch politician.


Mohammed Rabbae said at a press conference at the El Ouma Mosque in Amsterdam that the film was 'less bad' than expected, but said Wilders was mistaken in asserting the Qur'an justifies violence. ((Cris Toala Olivares/Associated Press))

Dozens of Islamists in Pakistan protested the 15-minute film Fitna — the Qur'anic term for "strife" — which was released Thursday night by right-wing Dutch legislator Geert Wilders after broadcasters in the Netherlands refused to show it.

Both Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, and Iran condemned the film.

But on Friday morning Dutch newspapers headlined that all was quiet the day after the film's release.

There have been fears the film could spark violent protests similar to those over the cartoon caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005.

Dutch media reported the film already had more than 5.5 million hits on the internet.

Muslim call for restraint

Some Muslim groups said the film is less offensive than they had thought.

Mohamed Rabbae, chairman of the moderate National Moroccan Council, said it was "less bad" than expected, but said Wilders was mistaken in asserting the Qur'an justifies violence.

He urged Muslims around the world to refrain from targeting Dutch interests in response to the film.

"Our call to Muslims abroad is follow our strategy and don't frustrate it with any violent incidents," he said.

The film quotes verses of the Qur'an alongside footage of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, 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.

Hate-speech ruling expected

A Dutch judge is scheduled Friday to review a petition from a Muslim group seeking an independent review of whether the film violates the country's hate speech laws.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said he rejects Wilders's views, but supports his freedom of speech.

"The government is heartened by the initial restrained reactions of Dutch Muslim organizations," he said. "The Dutch government stands for a society in which freedom and respect go hand in hand … Let us solve problems by working together."

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. 

With files from the Associated Press