March 22 (Bloomberg)Organizers of a demonstration in Amsterdam today say they expect thousands of people to protest against anti-Islamic rhetoric characterized by lawmaker Geert Wilders, who plans to release a film critical of Muslims.
"We want to show that there's something other than Wilders," said Rene Danen, chairman of anti-racism group Nederland Bekent Kleur, or The Netherlands Shows Its Colors. "We think that the majority of Dutch people still want a colorful society."
Wilders's plans for the film, in which he links verses from the Koran to violence, have fueled ethnic tension in The Netherlands and sparked anger in Muslim countries including Iran, Egypt and Pakistan. The lawmaker has campaigned against immigration and Muslim culture since he left the Liberals in 2004 to found his own party under the slogan: "Stop the Islamization of The Netherlands."
Danen said in a telephone interview March 20 his organization has chartered buses to take protesters from at least 10 other Dutch cities to Amsterdam, where the protest starts at 1 p.m. local time. The demonstration will be held on the city's Dam square, chosen for its proximity to the central railway station.
"We are demonstrating against racism," Danen said. "At this moment, Wilders is the mouthpiece of racism in the Netherlands."
Three-quarters of people in the Netherlands fear Wilders's movie will worsen the relationship between Muslims and non- Muslims, according to a poll of 600 people by TNS Nipo and broadcaster RTL released Feb. 29. Five percent of the Dutch population of 16 million is Muslim.
Yesterday, thousands of demonstrators in the Afghan capital Kabul burned a doll representing Wilders as they protested against his planned movie and Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed, Dutch news agency ANP reported.
Amsterdam police spokesman Arnout Aben said yesterday that uniformed and plain-clothes officers would monitor the protest and others would be standing by.
"So far, we have received no signs of people who are looking for trouble," Aben said by telephone.
Wilders did not respond to requests for an interview.