Ban acknowledged efforts by the government of the Netherlands to stop the broadcast of the film, which was launched by Islam critic Geert Wilders over the Internet, and appealed for calm to those “understandably offended by it.”
“There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence,” Ban said in a statement. “The right of free expression is not at stake here.”
The short film, titled “Fitna,” an Arabic term sometimes translated as “strife,” intersperses images of the September 11 attacks on the United States and Islamist bombings with quotations from the Koran.
The film urges Muslims to tear out “hate-filled” verses from the Koran and starts and finishes with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb under his turban, accompanied by the sound of ticking.
Several Muslim countries, including Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia, have also condemned the film.
“Freedom must always be accompanied by social responsibility,” Ban said.
“We must also recognize that the real fault line is not between Muslim and Western societies, as some would have us believe, but between small minorities of extremists, on different sides, with a vested interest in stirring hostility and conflict,” Ban said.
(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; editing by Mohammad Zargham)