Iran cleric says Israel behind anti-Islam Dutch film

Tehran, Iran — Israel and unidentified "oppressive powers" are behind the production of an anti-Islamic film by right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders, a prominent conservative Iranian cleric claimed on Friday.

"Behind these satanic acts can be found the oppressive powers and the Zionist regime," Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said during a Friday prayer sermon in the capital broadcast by state radio.

"This poor Dutch deputy has made 40 trips to Israel over the past 25 years," Khatami said. "He has himself said he is close to (Israeli President) Shimon Peres and (Prime Minister) Ehud Olmert.

"We see the hand of the Zionist regime behind these satanic acts and we cry 'death to Israel,'" he added.

The 17-minute-long film "Fitna" features shocking imagery of the attacks on New York in 2001 and Madrid in 2004 combined with quotes from the Koran, Islam's holy book, and has sparked outrage in some Muslim countries.

Khatami asserted that the film and the controversial publication in European newspapers of caricatures of the Muslim prophet Mohammed were a reaction against the "blossoming of Islam" in the world but would have the opposite effect to that intended by their authors.

"These films and caricatures are disseminated under the pretext of freedom of information in Europe. This is a great lie of Western liberal democracy, because anyone who speaks out against the official version of the Holocaust is jailed."

On several occasions, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has questioned the truth of the Holocaust and also forecast the demise of Israel.

Last week, Iran summoned Dutch Ambassador Radinck van Vollenhoven to protest about the film.

Iranian media quoted him as saying he had voiced sorrow about the broadcast of the "anti-Islamic" film and emphasising that it was condemned by the Dutch government.

Islamist students are planning a demonstration outside the Dutch embassy on Saturday.