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IRAN: Protest against Dutch film 'Fitna' draws tepid crowd

April 5, 2008 |  8:39 am


The protest in front of the Dutch Embassy today in Tehran was supposed to show the Muslim rage against right-wing politician Geert Wilders' film, "Fitna," which criticizes the Koran.

Instead, the demonstration showed mostly apathy. Only about 40 students, 25 guys and 15 women, showed up for the outing. They brought a couple of loudspeakers and called for the sacking of Wilders, who has likened the Koran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf."

They chanted against America and Israel, but also denounced liberal Iranian political factions as traitors.

Wilders had said that his intention was to provoke. Many criticized him for trying to stir up a hornet's nest between the West and Islam. Some feared riots and bloodshed once the movie was released, like those that erupted amid the 2006 Danish cartoon controversy.

But today, the police outnumbered the protesters, and a 15-foot fence surrounded the embassy wall, preventing anyone from hurling projectiles at the building.

At the end of the rally, a couple of demonstrators pelted the embassy with eggs, but most were polite and calm. One protester went out of his way to say he had no problem with the Dutch or the West.

"We are against the emerging anti-Islamic trend in the West," said Hanif Hussain Satarizadeh, a student at  Amir Kabir university in Tehran. "The Netherlands as a country is not our target."

Ramin Mostaghim In Tehran

Photo: Iranians attended  a protest outside the Dutch Embassy against the production and broadcast of the film "Fitna" by right-wing Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders in Tehran today. Credit: Hasan Sarbakhshian / Associated Press