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Dutch PM appeals for restraint over Koran film

MYT 3:16:03 AM

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende appealed for restraint on Friday over a yet to be screened film in which a right-wing populist lawmaker plans to lay out his view of the Koran.

Balkenende said it was unclear what Geert Wilders -- a politician whose anti-Islam comments have led to death threats -- would say in the film, but there were concerns in the Netherlands and abroad.

"The Netherlands has a tradition of freedom of speech, religion and beliefs. The Netherlands also has a tradition of respect, tolerance and responsibility. Unnecessarily offending a certain belief or group has no place in that," Balkenende told a news conference in The Hague.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende is seen addressing the 62nd United Nations General Assembly in New York in this September 27, 2007 file photo. Balkenende appealed for restraint on Friday over a yet to be screened film in which a right-wing populist lawmaker plans to lay out his view of the Koran. (REUTERS/Eric Thayer/Files)

"A free and unhindered debate, and respect in dealing with each other flow from both traditions, and the cabinet shall uphold both traditions and calls on everybody to do so."

Dutch public broadcaster TROS said the movie was expected to be shown on Jan. 25, but it was unclear on which TV station.

A film made by a high-profile critic of Islam for Dutch television has a disturbing precedent in the Netherlands.

Three years ago an Islamic militant killed film maker Theo Van Gogh over his film "Submission", written by former Dutch lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi-Ali, in which she accused Islam of condoning violence against women.

The murder unleashed a violent anti-Muslim backlash and forced Hirsi-Ali into hiding.

The Volkskrant newspaper reported on Friday that the government had prepared a 20-page document dealing with potential threats to public safety if Wilders' film is screened.

The document also deals with the evacuation of Dutch embassies, the paper said.

(Reporting by Niclas Mika)

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