(I took liberty to slightly edit the text by skipping Â the apologetic intro praising Bangladesh)
Police were everywhere. I was going to listen to a speech by the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose party received 1 million votes in the last elections and who believes Islam and democracy are incompatible. His antipathy towards militant Islam has earned his family a life under police protection.
After scuffles outside Wilders’s speaking venue in Melbourne last week, NSW police took no chances. On my way to the venue I encountered nine uniformed police at Liverpool station; a mobile police command post; a mobile police custody unit; a row of paddy wagons; a police cordon of 36 officers at the rear of the venue; another police cordon, with 56 officers, at the front; four mounted police; two checkpoints and a metal detector. Finally, inside the hall, about a dozen plainclothes officers stood around the room.
Victoria’sÂ Premier Ted Baillieu is pig-headed enough to claim he would go down with the failed multiculti-Titanic:
Much like the warnings in Dhaka last Monday, the threat of intimidation in Sydney proved illusory. The protest was small, desultory and kept at a distance by the police. (I’d hate to see the bill for such caution.) The function room was packed with about 500 people. ”I could have sold a lot more tickets but we ran out of room,” the tour’s organiser, Debbie Robertson*, told me. The venue was a very late compromise.
(*Its Debbie Robinson, Paul.)
Such was the paranoia surrounding Wilders’s visit that Robertson’s book attempts had been rejected by dozens of venues. The event in Perth was cancelled late after the Liberal Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, pulled the plug on the venue.
As Wilders strode to the podium he was given a cheering ovation. He responded: ”I am here with a message that your political leaders do not want you to hear.” More cheers.
His message was explicit: Islam is a social, legal and political code, not just a religion, which makes Muslim communities self-segregating and damages social cohesion.
”Do not repeat the mistakes we have made in Europe . . . we are experiencing that the more Islamic a society becomes, the less free it becomes . . . in each of our cities there is a city within a city, a state within a state . . . Islamic racism is growing inside our cities . . .”
He said Australia was experiencing the same process of incremental separatism. ”We need to shed a light on this process . . . so the most dangerous [trend] of all is governments that draft bills that restrict our freedom of speech . . . it means we are seeing legal jihad. The pro-Islamic lobby like to drag people to court . . . to spend endless time and money in the court process . . . we have to end this charade. Let the law protect people from sharia instead of selling us out to sharia.” More cheers.
”Many politicians, including almost all Australian federal politicians, shy away from confronting Islam’s intolerance . . . I’m afraid you are about to make the same mistakes through mass immigration by Muslims, and cultural relativism, which is even worse then multiculturalism . . . the intellectuals, the politicians, the media, tolerate . . . an Islam that does not tolerate us.
”The people of Europe have not fallen for the big lie . . . 57 per cent of Dutch people believe mass Muslim immigration is the biggest mistake since World War II; 56 per cent of Dutch see Islam as a threat; 64 per cent of Germans hold Islam as violent; 74 per cent of French people see Islam as intolerant.
”These people are not extremists. They stand for decency, for commonsense, for liberty . . . we do not represent a fringe minority, as your minister [for Immigration, Chris] Bowen said. We represent a majority.”
The room gave him a standing, cheering ovation. He departed, leaving behind a question: who holds the fringe view on the issue of Muslim immigration in Australia? Is it the Dutch visitor, or the political-media class that shunned him?