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Iranian minister urges Dutch to ban Koran film

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister on Tuesday said the Netherlands had the power to stop a right-wing Dutch lawmaker from screening a film about the Koran which has already sparked protests in the Muslim world.

Geert Wilders, who has described the Koran as "fascist" book that incites violence, plans to show his 15-minute film later this month despite mounting unrest and appeals from the Dutch government that it will harm Dutch interests abroad.

"The Netherlands is responsible ...they can stop it," said Mahdi Safari, urging the Dutch government to invoke the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Freedom of speech should not stretch to allowing Wilders to offend the rights of others, he added, citing article 29 of the declaration.

"If such a man will insist on this it is irresponsible for the world and society," Safari told journalists at a briefing after meeting Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen.

The Dutch government has warned the short film might spark unrest and sanctions similar to those unleashed when Danish newspapers published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in 2006.

Asked how Iran would act in response to the film Safari said: "All possibilities are on the table."

"We will show an appropriate reaction," he added.

Dutch businesses fear a loss of trade in Muslim countries and Dutch embassies are braced for attack.

The Dutch government has sought to distance itself from Wilders and plans a diplomatic offensive to contain any fallout similar to the Danish cartoon controversy.

Both Safari and Iran's ambassador to the Netherlands Bozorgmehr Ziaran said they could not predict the reaction of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims to the film, or prevent possible violence.

"Why would you expect us to control 1.2 billion Muslims when you cannot control one person," Ziaran said.

He added Wilders sought to violate Muslim's rights by demonising them, and was a war-monger and troublemaker.

"We do not need further confrontation. Things are boiling. We need wise men to bridge the gaps to reach out to each other...and promote peace and co-existence."

About 15,000 people protested in Afghanistan on Saturday, some burning Dutch and Danish flags in protest at Wilders' film and to condemn the reprinting of the cartoon of Mohammad.

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