KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad is urging the world's 1.3 billion Muslims to boycott Dutch products following the release of an anti-Islam movie by a maverick anti-immigrant lawmaker, a news report said Sunday.
Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad is reported to have urged all Muslims to unite to take action.
His government, meanwhile, has joined the international community in strongly condemning the 15-minute film, calling it disrespectful and insensitive.
Mahathir was quoted as saying by the Malay-language Utusan Malaysia "If Muslims unite, it will be easy to take action." If we boycott Dutch products, they will have to close down their businesses."
Dutch anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders' movie, titled "Fitna," or "ordeal" in Arabic, was posted online Thursday but removed from the site, LiveLeak.com, one day later.
Meanwhile, Australia has condemned the film, with the foreign minister calling it "highly offensive."
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith rejects the film's premise of equating Islam with acts of terror and violence and says it is an attempt to incite racial hatred.
Islamic and Arab leaders denounced the film Saturday, demanding international laws to prevent insults to religions.
The film brought condemnations from Muslim capitals and street protests in Pakistan after it was posted on a Web site Thursday.
The film came on the heels of the republishing in Danish papers of a cartoon of Islam's Prophet Muhammad that Muslims view as insulting.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir called on Muslims at an Arab summit in Damascus to "challenge those who insult" the prophet and proposed "a binding international charter" calling for the respect of religious beliefs.
"The offenses against our Arab and Islamic nations under the banner of freedom of expression are derogatory and defamatory and go against all human values," al-Bashir said.
In Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit called Wilders' film "a humiliation" to Islam.
Wilders said he made the film because "Islam and the Quran are dangers to the preservation of freedom in the Netherlands in the long term, and I have to warn people of that." It shows statements from radical clerics and cites Quranic verses interspersed with images from September 11, 2001, and other terror attacks. Watch Wilders speak about his controversial film »
The European Union's 27 foreign ministers said they too objected to the film's depiction of Islam.
"This view is sharply rejected," they said in a joint statement released at the end of a two-day meeting in Slovenia. "The vast majority of Muslims reject extremism and violence."
But unlike the Arab leaders, the European ministers defended the right to freedom of speech and called on Muslims to react peacefully. "Feeling offended is no excuse for aggression or threats," they said.
The Jeddah-based Organization of the Islamic Conference said the film was intended to fuel hatred of Islam and "incite disturbances, conflicts and to threaten the security and stability of the world."
The organization's secretary-general, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, said at the Damascus summit that the cartoons and the film only increase anti-Islamic sentiments in the West at a critical time. However, he praised the Dutch government for distancing itself from the movie.
Hundreds of Muslims have demonstrated in Pakistan over the film and the country's Foreign Ministry summoned the Dutch ambassador to deliver an official complaint against what it called a "defamatory film which deeply offended the sentiments of Muslims all over the world." E-mail to a friend
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