Michael McLaren speaks with Andrew Horwood from the Q Society about the upcoming Geert Wilders speaking tour:
If Bowen real man he’ll call: Wilders
Bowen is not man enough to call. Time to take him out with the trash, along with all the rest of the Â horrible Labor proletariat that caused the mess we’re in.
JONATHAN ESTE AND DAN BOX From: The Australian
THE anti-Islam campaigner and politician Geert Wilders has challenged the Immigration Minister to meet him during a speaking tour of Australia this month.
Mr Wilders said Chris Bowen, who has described the Dutch MP as an extremist and criticised his writings as offensive and wrong-headed, should meet him to debate his beliefs.
The founder of the Dutch Freedom Party, Mr Wilders was forced to cancel a speaking tour last October after the decision to grant him a visa was delayed. At the time, Mr Bowen said he had finally decided to allow the visit because to refuse would give Mr Wilders the opportunity to become a cause celebre.
Mr Wilders has denounced Islam as a “fascist ideology” and described Mohammed as a “pedophile” and “murderer”. He wants a ban on building mosques in The Netherlands as well as the closure of Islamic schools and a curb on immigration from Islamic countries.
Speaking to The Weekend Australian at his office in The Hague, he said: “I am not going to insult your Minister of Immigration, even though he insulted me. But he is wrong, I am not an extremist. I represent the third biggest party in the Dutch parliament, nearly one million people voted for my party and now we are No 2 in the polls.
“Perhaps, if he is a real man, he would like to meet with me and discuss the issues publicly or privately, I don’t care.”
A spokesman for Mr Bowen confirmed Mr Wilders would be able to enter Australia on the visa he was granted last year, but the minister would decline his invitation to meet. “The minister made his views very clear last year. He has absolutely no desire or plans to meet Mr Wilders.”
Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, who faced calls for his resignation after meeting Mr Wilders and urging him to speak in Australia, said he would not meet the Dutch MP this month.
A spokeswoman for Senator Bernardi said he had played no role in organising the upcoming visit, and was not a member of the Q Society of Australia, which has invited Mr Wilders and is paying for his trip.
Founded in Melbourne in 2010, the Q Society has described itself as an anti-Islamisation society, although spokesman Andrew Horwood yesterday said it was an educational organisation with a few hundred members nationally.
Mr Wilders had been invited to describe his experience in Europe. “We have Lakemba in western Sydney at the moment, we have Auburn, we have a couple of suburbs that are just starting to go that way,” Mr Horwood said.
This demographic shift could lead to increasingly isolated populations that did not necessarily share the same cultural or social values, he said.
Mr Wilders is expected to face protests in the three cities in which he is speaking — Melbourne, Sydney and Perth — and details of the venues will be released just 48 hours before.
The Q Society has said this is to prevent “uninvited guests causing a nuisance”, although Mr Horwood said it was at the request of Dutch police. Mr Wilders lives under 24-hour armed guard .
Islamic community leaders said they were not planning formal protests in the hope of denying Mr Wilders any publicity, although some “hot heads” were still expected to speak out.
Silma Ihram of the Australian Muslim Women’s Association said: “The general line from our community is ‘no response’ . . . The guy’s a nutcase, he’s losing popularity, so why give him something to respond to?”
Geert Wilders’ mission to end ‘Islamisation’
DUTCH politician Geert Wilders has a not-so-happy snap from his most recent family holiday, a trip to Sicily with his wife.
What ought to have been an opportunity for the leader of the third-largest party in the Dutch parliament to relax in private was marred, somewhat, by the presence on his trip of a 16-man personal protection unit.
Because for eight years, Wilders – the leader of Holland’s right-wing Freedom Party (PVV) and a charismatic demagogue who describes Islam as a “fascist ideology” and Mohammed as a “murderer” and a “pedophile” – has lived under 24-hour police protection after receiving numerous death threats. The threats have been made credible by the murder in Amsterdam of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in November 2004 by a young Muslim extremist in answer to a fatwa condemning him for his outspoken anti-Islamic film Submission.
“There were Dutch and Italian police,” he recalls of his holiday bodyguards. “And they were very friendly and they wanted a picture, so there, on our holiday, we have this picture of us with eight Dutch police and eight Italian police. It was like a big family meeting. I can laugh about it now, but it is not so funny, to be honest.”
Wilders has given offence – and continues to do so at every opportunity – because of his oft-stated belief that, rather than being a peaceful religion for two billion Muslims around the world, Islam is a fascist ideology whose stated aim is to dominate, either by direct acts of war and terrorism or by “taqqiya” or trickery. In his native Netherlands, he has successfully pushed for a ban on wearing of the burka and is calling for an end to immigration from Islamic countries, a moratorium on building new mosques, a ban on Islamic schools and a draconian system of deportation.
His short film Fitna, or “Upheaval”, released online in 2008, juxtaposes verses from the Koran with terrifying footage of 9/11, the London and Madrid bombings and other harrowing images that link Islam with violence and oppression. The film and Wilders’ other statements led to him being charged in the Dutch courts with criminally insulting religious and ethnic groups and inciting hatred and discrimination. He was acquitted in June 2011.
Meanwhile, Wilders’ message has clearly enjoyed some resonance with the Dutch voting public. In its seven-year history, the PVV has enjoyed considerable electoral success, going from nine seats in the 150-member lower house to 24 seats at the 2010 election, after which the party was key to keeping the shaky coalition government led by Mark Rutte’s conservative-liberal People’s Party (VVD) in power.
Wilders suffered a setback in September last year, losing some of his support and seeing his parliamentary party shrink to 15 members, but recent polling has him at 24 per cent of the vote, making the PVV presently the second most popular party.
But it is very difficult to get any of his political opponents to talk about the Wilders phenomenon. Repeated calls from The Weekend Australian to the VVD and the PvdA, or Labour Party, drew a blank, with party spokesmen declining to return calls.
This doesn’t surprise Dutch academic Hein de Haas, the co-director of the International Immigration Institute at Oxford University: “The other parties are scared to burn their fingers on him,” says de Haas. “This is even terrifying leading politicians – and it is this cowardice on the part of the major parties that I find most worrying.”
De Haas says Wilders is “more dangerous than people realise. It’s inappropriate to compare him with the fascists, but he uses some of the same tactics – he tries to stigmatise entire populations with the actions of a few and that is a dynamic that is potentially dangerous because people think it is legitimate.
“I think he should be able to say what he wants, but there is a danger that (if) this becomes part of the political discourse it can legitimise people saying these things in the political sphere. In The Netherlands we have mainstream politicians saying things that are not acceptable in many other countries.”
For his part Wilders is defiant that he is right to raise what he sees as issues that his opponents – and his critics around the world – are too scared to talk about. He points to newspaper reports that in parts of London, organised gangs of what the papers called “Muslim vigilantes” have been patrolling the streets, confiscating alcohol from passers-by and harassing people they think are gay or women they consider to be inappropriately dressed.
“What I find unbelievable is that this doesn’t start a debate. Why are there not immediately parliamentary questions or a debate started in Westminster?
“You see it in every country where Islamisation has grown that they face the same problems. There are cities and neighbourhoods where the police are afraid to go, where there is enormous amount of crime, where there is beating up of women and homosexuals, that there is a growth of honour killings … of genital mutilation, all those kind of things are growing in communities where you have more Islamisation and we should stop it.”
A former parliamentary comrade from his VVD days, the Somali-Dutch feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali – who was also put under protection after receiving death threats and now lives in New York, is critical of Wilders, saying he fails to differentiate between extremist and moderate Muslims.
“He should not see all Muslims as opponents,” she says, adding that Wilders was “a populist who did not come with any proposals which could be implemented”.
This chimes with the views of the umbrella Dutch Muslim group Contactorgaan Moslims en Overheid, which represents the bulk of the country’s more than 400 mosques and has worked since September 2001 to detoxify the brand of Islam in The Netherlands. Director Ebu Ozture believes fear of Islam has gradually been overtaken by other concerns, chief among them the economic crisis.
“Islam was a hot item before the last election,” says Ozture. “But people have now got other problems – mainly economic, so (Wilders) won fewer seats and now has less influence. But he is a big player in Dutch politics – he’s good at getting attention and he’s a very good communicator, very good at getting in the media.”
Wilders says his is an important mission because he believes that in most Western countries debate is hampered by the “cultural relativism” of the liberal Left – which, he says, foolishly insists that “all cultures are equal” – a notion he defiantly dismisses.
“I believe that you are not a racist, or a fascist, or a nationalist, or whatever, if you say what I say – what I am proud to say: that not only are we not an Islamic culture, that we don’t have Islamic values, but that our culture is better than the Islamic culture; that we don’t use violence, that we allow people to leave their religion if they want to, that we are reasonable – that all the issues that make up Judeo-Christian humanist values are better than the Islamic values.
“That our culture is better than their values – look at how we treat women, how we treat homosexuals, how we treat journalists who we disagree with – how we deal with democracy. It’s better.”
As far as Wilders is concerned, the more people try to prevent him speaking, or try to stop people coming to hear him, the more it proves his point: that to some extent the damage has been done and that by denying him his freedom of speech, the fanatics who have threatened to kill him for what he has to say can claim they have won at least a partial victory.