“Valuing freedom of speech”
Embarrassing and disgraceful.
“Prudent, but belated”-– WTF does that mean? And what the hell Â is freedom of speech worth when a creepy Labor dick can sit on a visa application for 6 weeks before he graciously stamps it with conditions!? Â This is no way to treat Â elected politicians from Â friendly nations.
MMIGRATION Minister Chris Bowen has made a prudent, if belated decision to grant a visa to Dutch politician Geert Wilders to visit Australia. Whatever Mr Wilders’s views may be, Mr Bowen is right when he says Australia’s democracy is strong enough, our multiculturalism robust enough and our commitment to freedom of speech entrenched enough for the nation to withstand the visit of a “fringe commentator”.
Bowen also added insult to injury:
“Wilders is a provocateur who no doubt revels in the spotlight and would like nothing more than to be denied entry to Australia and garner his cause more attention.”
Well, yes, because he loves to live under house arrest. We’re talking about a man who once said he was glad he didn’t have children so that they weren’t forced to live the same way as he does. That’s the sort of spotlight we’re talking about, right?
Shameless, ignorant, insulting and inept.Â
Today, in a display of gob-smacking gall,Â Bowen announced: “I have decided not to intervene to deny him a visa …”
This from a minister who let a visa application sit from August to October, waited until after Wilders had cancelled his trip, and the organisers of the visit had lost thousands of dollars, to decide “not to intervene”.
Bowen used an opinion piece inÂ The AustralianÂ today to dump a bucket-load of bile on Wilders: “His views are offensive. To read his writings is to be struck by their ignorance… a far-right politician… anti-Islamist … an extremist … a provocateur … a fringe commentator … a sideshow…”
Mr Wilders, a Dutch MP, founded and leads The Netherlands’ Party for Freedom. His campaign to stop what he claims is the “Islamisation” of his country, which is 5.8 per cent Muslim, struck a chord, initially, with some Dutch voters, but the party was thumped in last month’s election, plunging from 24 to 15 seats after opposing government austerity measures and advocating a withdrawal from the EU.
As Mr Bowen wrote in The Australian yesterday, Mr Wilders, whose visit has now been postponed until February, will be subject to Australian laws against racial vilification and inciting violence, like any visiting speaker. Mr Wilders, who has likened the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and berated what he regards as Islam’s alleged destruction of Western values, is outspoken. So is British preacher Taji Mustafa, who was granted a visa to enter Australia and who told a conference of fundamentalist group Hizb ut-Tahrir in western Sydney last month that Islam was not only a religion but also a system of government that needed to be implemented “radically” and “completely” through a return to the Islamic Khilafah (caliphate) system.
The violent hatreds expressed by the Islamic fringe a fortnight ago in Sydney in protest at the insulting film Innocence of Muslims underlined the need to reconfigure Australian multiculturalism to foster the values of democracy, free speech and tolerance. In a free society, it is not the role of governments to use the visa system to censor speakers whose views are likely to cause aggravation.
Where is our free society now?
Australian Muslim leaders took a responsible stand yesterday in calling on Muslims to remain calm and to rise above any provocation from Mr Wilders.
That’s not what they said. They said they ‘might not be able to control their ‘yoots’, which means its our fault if they run amok.
Free speech is a vital part of our democracy, and defending it sometimes requires us to defend views with which we strongly disagree.
Sounds like a beast of burden. Why work in a media kitchen if you can’t stand the heat, Mr editor?