Dutch protest against Islam film

Amsterdam, The Netherlands - At least 1,000 people have taken part in a demonstration in Amsterdam against the planned release of a film expected to be highly critical of Islam.

Protesters objected to the planned internet release of the film by Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders.

Mr Wilders says the 15-minute film deals with Islamic ideology which he describes as "the enemy of freedom".

The planned release, expected before the end of this month, has sparked angry responses in the Muslim world.

Some protesters in central Amsterdam carried signs that said "Stop the witch hunt against Muslims".

"We can no longer remain silent. There is a climate of hate and fear in the Netherlands," said Rene Danen, a spokesman from anti-racism organisation Nederland Bekent Kleur (The Netherlands Shows its Colours), which organised the protest.

The Dutch government has disassociated itself from Mr Wilders' views, but there are fears the film will spark protests similar to those that followed the publication in Denmark two years ago of cartoons seen as offensive to Muslims.

The film has already been condemned by several Muslim countries, including Iran and Pakistan.

'Fight for freedom'

Mr Wilders' film is entitled Fitna, an Arabic word used to describe strife or discord, usually religious.

Mr Wilders wrote a commentary in a Dutch newspaper on Saturday.

"The film is not so much about Muslims as about the Koran and Islam. The Islamic ideology has as its utmost goal the destruction of what is most dear to us, our freedom," he wrote in De Volkskrant.

"Fitna is the last warning for the West. The fight for freedom has only just begun," he said.

Mr Wilders says he plans to release his film on the internet before the end of the month.

He has had police protection since Dutch director Theo van Gogh was killed by a radical Islamist in 2004.