Damascus summit: Arab and Muslim leaders condemn anti-Islam movie

Published March 30th, 2008 - 08:53 GMT

Muslim and Arab leaders denounced a Dutch film Saturday that portrays Islam as a ticking time bomb aimed at the West, demanding international laws to prevent insults to religions. The 15-minute film entitled "Fitna" by Dutch politician Geert Wilders attracted condemnations by Muslims after it was posted on a Web site Thursday.


Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir called on Muslims at an Arab summit in Damascus to "challenge those who insult" the prophet and proposed "a binding international charter" calling for the respect of religious beliefs. "The offenses against our Arab and Islamic nations under the banner of freedom of expression are derogatory and defamatory and go against all human values," al-Bashir said, according to the AP.


In Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit called Wilders' film "a humiliation" to Islam.


Wilders said he made the film because "Islam and the Quran are dangers to the preservation of freedom in the Netherlands in the long term, and I have to warn people of that."


The European Union's 27 foreign ministers said they too objected to the film's depiction of Islam. "This view is sharply rejected," they said in a joint statement released at the end of a two-day meeting in Slovenia. "The vast majority of Muslims reject extremism and violence."


On its part, the Jeddah-based Organization of the Islamic Conference said the film was intended to fuel hatred of Islam and "incite disturbances, conflicts and to threaten the security and stability of the world." The organization's secretary-general, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, said at the Damascus summit that the cartoons and the film only increase anti-Islamic sentiments in the West at a critical time. However, he praised the Dutch government for distancing itself from the movie.

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