Too little too late; Â and Abbott’s silent Â cowardice is just pathetic.
One of the latest debacles was another Perth venue breaking its contract at the last minute, leaving many hundreds with nowhere to go.Â Â It is not just the oppressive and undemocratic nature of Islam which is responsible for this reprehensible attack on freedom of speech. The Islamists are being aided and abetted by leftist activist groups. Indeed, they have been the main ones threatening to disrupt and shut down any event featuring Wilders.
COALITION Senator Cory Bernardi tested the patience of his parliamentary leader Tony Abbott by affirming his support for Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who has been forced to cancel a speaking engagement in Perth because no venue was willing to provide him a stage.
Senator Bernardi, whom Wilders this week described as an old friend, had distanced himself from the anti-Islam campaigner since late last year, when he was given a visa to visit Australia. However, the cancellation of Wilders’ tour date today prompted the Senator to lament the “double standard” of free speech in Australia.
“Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ public speaking tour has run into constant problems as venues continue to pull out or refuse to host his events,” Senator Bernardi wrote to subscribers of his weekly “common sense” newsletter. “In such a tolerant and open society like Australia, why is it so difficult to accommodate a speaking tour by a member of the Dutch parliament who has a different perspective?”
Senator Bernardi contrasted the difficulty Wilders had in obtaining a visa with the Federal Government’s preparedness to issue them to Taji Mustafa, a senior figure in Hizb ut-Tahrir, and Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, who has described Jews as “rats of the the world.”
“There are myriad reports from a previously harmonious and tolerant Dutch society where Jews and gay people no longer feel safe from attack by Islamic fundamentalists,” the Senator said.
“And yet, it is Wilders who is characterised as an extremist.”
In contrast to Mr Abbott, Senator Bernardi did not distance himself from Mr Wilders’ characterisation of Islam as a totalitarian ideology incompatible with western democratic societies.
Speaking earlier today on Melbourne Radio 3AW, Mr Abbott said Wilders’ was “substantially” wrong about Islam and the preparedness of Muslims living in Australia to integrate.
“He is entitled to his view but I think that the Muslims in this country see themselves rightly as fair dinkum, dinky-di Australians, just as the Catholics and the Jews and Protestants and the atheists, we see ourselves as Australians,” Mr Abbott told host Neil Mitchell.
Mr Abbott also questioned whether it was appropriate for Wilders to evoke the ANZAC spirit during a speech in Melbourne in which he called for a ban on immigrants from Islamic countries, a ban on the construction of new mosques and for muslim people to be “sent packing” to their country of birth if they committed crimes.
“I think it is a bit odd when non-Australians talk about our sacred traditions just as it would be a bit odd for an Australian politician to evoke the spirit of Dunkirk or something like that,” Mr Abbott said. “Let him say his piece but I think there are very few lessons that Holland has to teach Australia when it comes to the integration of newcomers.”
Wilders is currently in Western Australia but was forced to cancel his planned speaking engagement in Perth after the venue booked for the night cancelled last Friday. Andrew Horwood, a spokesman for the Q Society which is organising and funding Wilders’ Australian trip, said the group had hoped until Tuesday night to find an alternative venue but had now “conceded defeat.”
The withdrawal of support for Wilders follows strong public comments from West Australian Premier Colin Barnett, who declared earlier this week that Wilders was not welcome in his state.
Mr Barnett took some credit for Wilders being left without a stage to deliver his stump speech warning about the threat of Islam to free speech and democratic traditions. “I don’t want him here,” Mr Barnett said. “He is certainly not going to use government buildings to promote his message.”
Mr Horwood said government pressure had added to the reluctance of venue owners to expose their businesses to protesters, public threats and possible retribution.
“The plan was to have a quieter day and a big night but the big night is gone,” Mr Horwood said.
“I just find it incredible that in 2013, in Australia in a democracy, this has actually happened. We have all had generations before who have gone off to war to fight for the country and while they were doing that I can’t imagine they were thinking in 2013 a government would stop a respected politician from the Netherlands speaking in public.”
Wilders is next scheduled to speak in Sydney on Friday night in the final appearance of his Australian tour.