March 29, 2008 / 2:06 PM / 12 years ago

LiveLeak.com removes anti-Koran film after threats

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - British-based LiveLeak.com, which was the first Web site to post the anti-Koran film by a Dutch lawmaker, has removed the film after threats to its staff “of a very serious nature,” it said.

“This is a sad day for freedom of speech on the net but we have to place the safety and well-being of our staff above all else,” the company said in a statement posted on its Web site (www.liveleak.com).

On Friday, Iran called for quick intervention by the Dutch and British governments to end the screening of the film.

Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration Freedom Party, launched his film “Fitna”, an Arabic term sometimes translated as “strife”, on Thursday.

The film intersperses images of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and Islamist bombings with quotations from the Koran, Islam’s holy book.

Muslim nations on Friday condemned the film while Dutch Muslim leaders urged restraint.

Late on Friday two cars were set on fire in the town of Utrecht in a protest against the film, a police spokesman said.

He said four young men had used the film as an excuse to cause unrest. “We don’t have the impression it was a coordinated action.” The men also wrote anti-Wilders slogans on garbage containers. No other incidents were reported.

The Web site of the Freedom Party (www.pvv.nl) crashed shortly after launching the film on Thursday. On Saturday it was online with links to the film on the Dutch Web site FOK! and Google.

FOK! said in a statement on the Web site it was merely mirroring the film. “Mirroring this film does not mean we condone or agree with this film, the contents of this film or Geert Wilders’ opinion on Islam in any way.”

Wilders’ film urges Muslims to tear out “hate-filled” verses from the Koran and starts and ends with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb under his turban, accompanied by the sound of ticking.

The cartoon, first published in Danish newspapers, ignited violent protests around the world and a boycott of Danish products in 2006. Many Muslims regard any depiction of the Prophet as offensive.

Dutch director Theo van Gogh, who made a film accusing Islam of condoning violence against women, was murdered by a militant Islamist in 2004.

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