THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Iran warned on Tuesday that an anti-Quran film by a maverick right-wing Dutch lawmaker would "breed violence" and said the Dutch government could ban it based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party, has said he plans to air the film this month, though no date has been set. The government says it is powerless to ban the film before seeing its contents and is wary of breaching Wilders' right to freedom of expression.
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari cited the 1948 Human Rights declaration's 29th article that individual rights may be limited in the interest of respecting other people's freedoms and "meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society."
Wilders, known for his anti-Islam rhetoric, says the film will depict the Quran as a "fascist book" that can be used by extremists to incite violence and which preaches the oppression of women and homosexuals.
"Freedom of speech is not unlimited," Tehran's ambassador to the Netherlands, Bozorgmehr Ziaran told a small group of reporters at the Iranian Embassy. The film, he added, "would just breed violence."
Wilders, Ziaran said, "is not a peacemaker, Mr. Wilders is a warmonger."
Already, angry crowds in Pakistan and Afghanistan have protested the film as an insult to Islam. The Dutch government has tightened security at its embassies around the Muslim world and said it fears a possible economic backlash as well as violent demonstrations.
The Dutch terrorism watchdog last week raised the country's threat level, citing the Wilders film as one reason for the change.
Asked if an Iranian boycott of Dutch products and businesses was possible, Safari said Iran was keeping its options open as to how to protest if the film is aired.
"All possibilities are on the table," he said. "Nobody can say what is going to happen."
Safari said Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen brought up the issue of the film when they met Tuesday. Verhagen's spokesman Bart Rijs could not immediately confirm what the ministers discussed.
Ziaran condemned Wilders for making the movie at a time of already strained relations between Muslims and the West.
"We do not need further confrontation. Things are already boiling," he said. "We need wise people to bridge the gaps."
In November 2004, a Muslim radical killed Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh for perceived insults to Islam.
The publication in Denmark of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2006 triggered deadly riots across the Muslim world. A month ago, Denmark's leading newspapers reprinted a cartoon of the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse — after Danish police said they had uncovered a plot to kill the artist. The reprinting triggered another wave of demonstrations in Islamic countries.