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February 11, 2009 5:22 PM   Subscribe

"Let them arrest me". Vehemently anti-Islamic Dutch MP Geert Wilders was scheduled to travel to London tomorrow to attend a screening of his controversial short film Fitna (wiki, mefi). Yesterday however, the UK's Home Secretary notified Wilders that his presence in the UK would pose a "serious threat to [...] public security" (PDF), presumably intending to refuse his entry into UK. Wilders plans to board the flight anyway, daring British authorities to arrest him.

Not that he's sitting so comfy at home either, however: Wilders faces prosecution in the Netherlands for hate speech and inciting discrimination. The decision to bar the self-styled "freedom fighter" from entering Britain has met with widespread criticism from the Dutch cabinet -- which by the way is completely made up of Wilders' political opponents -- and fellow MPs. The Dutch Foreign Minister has phoned the UK Foreign Secretary and stated he was "deeply upset and disappointed" by the decision. British papers join the chorus of condemnation.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (83 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Interestingly, a statement by a Home Office spokesperson saying that "[t]he [British] government [...] will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred, and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country", in my reading, seems to indicate Wilders' ideology influenced the decision to at least some extent, as opposed to purely the supposed security threat per se.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:23 PM on February 11, 2009


Let him in. Boris Johnson could really use a break from being public ass clown #1.
posted by dhammond at 5:26 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't arresting him just give him the press he wants.
posted by Sargas at 5:30 PM on February 11, 2009


George W. Bush would like to fly to UK. Can he come over and play?
posted by pianomover at 5:35 PM on February 11, 2009


The most lol-tastic part is the response to the video, Schism. Uh, yeah guys guess what: all your bronze-age religious texts have some pretty disgusting, nsfw stuff in them. If you take your religious text literally, chances are you're doing it wrong.
posted by mullingitover at 5:41 PM on February 11, 2009


British authorities don't need to be dared.
posted by fire&wings at 5:43 PM on February 11, 2009


Yeah, that's bullshit. The man is free to express his opinions.
posted by empath at 5:43 PM on February 11, 2009


Related commentary
posted by nola at 5:44 PM on February 11, 2009


mullingitover: uh, that was the point of Schism.
posted by empath at 5:45 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't arresting him just give him the press he wants

Yeah, I understand that in prison you can trade front page headlines for cigarettes.
posted by DU at 5:46 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Home Office spokesperson saying that "[t]he [British] government [...] will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred, and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country"

Aren't there also a lot of Islamic scholars who "spread extremism, hatred, and violent messages" in London, or is that just my USA-centric CNN-media driven perspective?
posted by billysumday at 5:46 PM on February 11, 2009


One wrong plus one wrong I might be misremembering or be mistaken about make a right.
posted by DU at 5:50 PM on February 11, 2009


I'm torn on this. On the one hand, his views are his own - he's not smuggling weapons etc. into the country, and I'm assuming he's not on the radio saying "kill all the Muslims". Outright, at least.

On the other hand, I like to think that a legitimate government has the right to bar any person (who is not a citizen/resident) from entering their country.

Although i guess the whole EU thing makes that tricky.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:51 PM on February 11, 2009


The smart thing to do would be to arrest him under the anti-terrorism laws which he is probably in favour of. Keep him for 28 days without notifying anyone and his movie will be out of the cinemas before anybody even knows he is in custody. Then release him without charges and say "our bad".
posted by srboisvert at 5:53 PM on February 11, 2009 [12 favorites]


Eponysterical!
posted by humannaire at 6:01 PM on February 11, 2009


Anti-Islam is the new Anti-Judaism.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:02 PM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wilders seems like a complete ass but the Dutch appeals court decision to allow him to be prosecuted is shocking in its implications:

The court ruled that Wilders had personally insulted Muslim believers by attacking the symbols of Islam. The court found that many of Wilders' comments offensive because they "injure Muslims in their religious dignity."

Saying "Mohammed was just a man and the Koran no more holy than any other book" is also an attack on the symbols of Islam and would also "injure Muslims in their religious dignity." Is that no longer allowed in the Netherlands, either? I understand that it's apparently Wilders' aggressively mean-spirited and completely ungenerous approach that tilted the court towards prosecution, but the precedent set by that decision should be horrifying to all non-believers everywhere. No one should have to dance around a clear statement of an opinion that religion is nonsense, regardless of any "insult to dignity" that might cause that religion's true believers.

Oh, and I just love that the Dutch Foreign Minister is complaining about the UK denying entry to a guy the Netherlands is about to prosecute for inciting hatred and discrimination.
posted by mediareport at 6:04 PM on February 11, 2009 [10 favorites]


Aren't there also a lot of Islamic scholars who "spread extremism, hatred, and violent messages" in London, or is that just my USA-centric CNN-media driven perspective?

Besides that double standard, there is also an unprecedented degree of pandering to Islamic demands in the UK. That said, Wilders' overtures towards certain European fascists are not exactly reassuring.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:09 PM on February 11, 2009


The British government has capitulated to threats of violence. Disgusting. Wilders himself isn't going to beat or kill anyone, but the neanderthals waving signs such as "Behead those who insult Islam" just might. Meanwhile, Wilders - maybe awful, but no criminal - is the one facing jail time.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:13 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The court ruled that Wilders had personally insulted Muslim believers by attacking the symbols of Islam. The court found that many of Wilders' comments offensive because they "injure Muslims in their religious dignity." About Fitna the court said it was "one-sided, extremely generalising rhetoric to radical effect, using relentless repetition and increasing intensity."

What's the usual prison sentence for making a one-sided, increasingly intense film with extremely generalizing rhetoric to radical effect?
posted by Brian B. at 6:23 PM on February 11, 2009


Usually you get an Oscar. Ask Michael Moore.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:48 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Governments should be tolerant. And tolerance means tolerating intolerance. This is not a pretty episode in the modern history of Europe.
posted by Faze at 6:50 PM on February 11, 2009


Governments should be tolerant. And tolerance means tolerating intolerance.

Governments use their media to promote their aims, and their means of keeping things running properly. This man uses the media to promote conflicting ones, ones which promote destabilization of those aims and means in the UK. Were his message simply that "all Abrahamic religions are equally barbaric,"his message would be acceptable, because then it would no longer resemble an incitement to hatred. He should not be allowed into the UK airing this obviously false prejudice which clearly promotes the religious intolerance that Western people are ridiculously prone to and which the British government is wisely trying to curtail.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:13 PM on February 11, 2009


I think a lack of tolerance for extreme opinions such as his is based on Europe's history. It's a misguided attempt to prevent Nazi-esque views from gaining public exposure and getting anywhere near power.

Unfortunately, it just gives the guy media attention. Exactly what we should be avoiding. Let him in, ignore him if possible, but challenge his abhorrent views if necessary.

It's also a bit disturbing to see comments like "an unprecedented degree of pandering to Islamic demands in the UK" here. Is there anything wrong with attempting to improve relations between the state and the Muslim community?

I'm sure there have been cases where Christians have been pandered too by governments too.
posted by knapah at 7:16 PM on February 11, 2009


Usually you get an Oscar. Ask Michael Moore.

I do recall that conservative pundits demanded Moore's films to be balanced and not one-sided (taking their cue from the Fox News tag line no doubt). It struck me as a form of media illiteracy that anyone would demand a documentary film to be an educational news reel, when it was privately funded to be an editorial/rhetorical device (which news papers are filled with, as any debate would be). But the Dutch are simply being wimps here. When confronted with a culture war they have found it too easy to silence the civilized ones rather than dare provoke those with violent tendencies.
posted by Brian B. at 7:35 PM on February 11, 2009


Anti-Islam is the new Anti-Judaism.

No it's not.
posted by lullaby at 7:47 PM on February 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


> Anti-Islam is the new Anti-Judaism.

No it's not.

And as the European far-right demonstrates regularly, there's really no need to choose.
posted by palliser at 8:11 PM on February 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm sure there have been cases where Christians have been pandered too by governments too.

Yeah, and those cases are equally bullshit, just like this one.
posted by Falconetti at 8:50 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Governments use their media to promote their aims, and their means of keeping things running properly. (Bold mine)

The idea of government-run media explicitly used to preserve the status quo seems like a pretty terrible idea. Talk about a cure that's worse than the disease.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:29 PM on February 11, 2009


Governments use their media to promote their aims, and their means of keeping things running properly.

Typically this is referred to as propaganda. If you are defending modern governments’ proclivity to brainwash their citizens through the use of mass media I seriously feel sorry for you.

This man uses the media to promote conflicting ones, ones which promote destabilization of those aims and means in the UK.

Tough titties. People do the same thing every day in every country where freedom of expression is allowed. That’s kinda the whole point. Though I may not necessary agree with their views, I respect their rights to express themselves and to use the media available to them to offer an opposing view from that of the status quo.

Were his message simply that "all Abrahamic religions are equally barbaric," his message would be acceptable, because then it would no longer resemble an incitement to hatred.

Insofar as I am aware of, this man’s opinions (however misguided) have incited no physical harm onto anyone. Hatred, like all other emotions, remains an unabashedly free form of expression in a free society.

He should not be allowed into the UK airing this obviously false prejudice which clearly promotes the religious intolerance that Western people are ridiculously prone to and which the British government is wisely trying to curtail.

Yes, of course. Religious intolerance remains a purely western phenomenon. How old are you?

If you believe in freedom of speech then it follows that you support the rights of those whom you may not necessarily agree with.
posted by tiger yang at 9:49 PM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nice title!
posted by jouke at 10:04 PM on February 11, 2009


Wouldn't arresting him just give him the press he wants.

Yes, it is. Wilders thrives on this sort of attention. He's just another guileless politician grasping for the muddy ring of the lowest common denominator in an effort to gain votes through inciting fear and/or outrage, propping up a persecution complex, and painting himself as some tireless underdog for democracy. He's not helping anyone but himself. He's a cheap showman, and belongs on a sideshow hawker's stump.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:17 PM on February 11, 2009


His film is confrontational but when did people get the right not to be offended? It seems like I have seen quotes from Imams in Britain that were more disruptive and threatening than anything this guy has said. I admire many things about European society but the fact that a person can be charged with a crime for being critical of a religion is definitely not one of them.
posted by Tashtego at 10:21 PM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


there is also an unprecedented degree of pandering to Islamic demands in the UK.

Yeah, because tolerance and a little give and take are terrible. Also the first article is a link to the Sun; I don't think I need to say more.

Wilders is an idiot and a bigot at that. If he attacked Christianity and Judaism with the verve with which the attacks Islam that would be one thing, but he doesn't. Still, we should let him in, if only to starve him of the media oxygen which he needs to survive.
posted by ob at 11:22 PM on February 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, because tolerance and a little give and take are terrible.

When the government attempts to enforce tolerance by denying individuals their right to an unpopular opinion, then yes, they are terrible.
posted by Optamystic at 12:17 AM on February 12, 2009


Regarding "tolerating intolerance", the usual American stance seems to be "yes", but European opinion leans towards "no". Case in point: Anti-Nazi laws in Germany and France, and the recent spat about blasphemy in Norway.

Muslims and integration of same into European society also takes up more and more space in the media over here, especially since the Mohammad cartoons controversy from 2005.
posted by Harald74 at 1:18 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


If he attacked Christianity and Judaism with the verve with which the attacks Islam that would be one thing, but he doesn't.

What, so I can only criticize X, if I'm also prepared to criticize Y and Z as well?

That makes no sense whatsoever. We don't say that people who criticize Christian fundamentalists must also be obliged to criticize Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc. in order to assess the validity of their arguments. Why should people who criticize Muslims be held to a different standard?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:22 AM on February 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


It was the anniversary of the Rushdie affair recently, and one point I saw made in related discussions was that prior to that, you wouldn't hear any talk of a "Muslim community" in the UK - most of the people that now refers to were lumped together with other people from the sub-continent and surrounds as "Asian."
For my money part of the emergence of the problem of "community relations" has been the well-intentioned but cack-handed way officialdom has handled multi-culturalism - including a willingness to accept a group of largely self-appointed "community leaders" as representing what is in fact a diverse mix of immigrants and their descendants from various nations, cultures, religions and sects within the same. Behind that I suspect is the larger problem that notions of citizenship and what it entails took shape through a muddled historical process which has proved unable to keep up with the sometimes conflicting demands now being placed on it by both rapid change and a desire to behave better than in the past to immigrant communities.
posted by Abiezer at 1:47 AM on February 12, 2009


Behind that I suspect is the larger problem that notions of citizenship and what it entails took shape through a muddled historical process which has proved unable to keep up with the sometimes conflicting demands now being placed on it by both rapid change and a desire to behave better than in the past to immigrant communities.

Well yes, definitely. This is a large part of the reason why international (European) laws with regards to the flow of labor, refugees, human trafficking and so forth were created. But immigration policy is always going to be an inexact science. As has been correctly pointed out by others earlier in this thread, Europe has a very recent infamous history with its treatment of ethnic minorities, in the 20th century and in one previous. For this reason, modern European leaders recognize that the roots of some of these dark spots in history grew from gaps in the law that allowed minorities to slip through social cracks and allowed hate groups to foment without any serious legal challenge.

This is why hate crime/tolerance laws are written broadly - and they should be - to allow judges the freedom to decide at their discretion when we're talking about freedom of expression and when we're talking about fomenting an environment of hate and fear that makes life nigh on unbearable for some. We hear a lot of horror stories about how these laws are going to create a totalitarian regime of tolerance, in particular with regards to ridiculous stories about pig-free calendars.

I think that these laws aren't enough. It's often that people talk about ethnic minorities without talking to them. You correctly point out that there's a potential for self-appointed "community leaders" to squeeky wheel a wish list into city hall. What there needs to be - more than tolerance legislation - is an active system of education that begins in primary school, wherein children of different cultures learn what those different cultures are about, whether through a teacher-guided dialogue between the kids or on parent's nights. Outside of the schools and in the social systems, there needs to be more youth centres, more police outreach programs, more social offices spending more time on the pavement and less time behind desks. The pattern emerging here is communication and education. It won't change things overnight, of course, but if programs such as these begin in primary school, positive differences could be seen within a generation.

In any event, I don't think tolerance laws are choking the freedom out of Europe just yet. Wilders is a member of parliament for a western European country. Not far away, Nasser Khader is a member of parliament in his western European country. I'd say that Europe, while far from perfect, is doing alright.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:24 AM on February 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's often that people talk about ethnic minorities without talking to them.
Yes, this is part of the point I was trying to set out above - I think I didn't make it clear that what I've found a bit pernicious is a shift to conflating "Asian" people from certain backgrounds with a "Muslim community." This is not to say that there aren't Muslim people with a set of demands based on their religious beliefs, but they aren't an exact map on Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Ugandan Asian etc. communities (which in themselves aren't homogeneous). All the Turkish and Kurdish acquaintances I had in London were communist and anarchist exiles from military crackdowns, but some lazy discourse would have them lumped in with the "Muslim community" too.
posted by Abiezer at 2:33 AM on February 12, 2009


Yes, this is part of the point I was trying to set out above - I think I didn't make it clear that what I've found a bit pernicious is a shift to conflating "Asian" people from certain backgrounds with a "Muslim community." This is not to say that there aren't Muslim people with a set of demands based on their religious beliefs, but they aren't an exact map on Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Ugandan Asian etc. communities (which in themselves aren't homogeneous). All the Turkish and Kurdish acquaintances I had in London were communist and anarchist exiles from military crackdowns, but some lazy discourse would have them lumped in with the "Muslim community" too.

Absolutely, and I agree with your point 100%. Blanket labels do a disservice to both parties. This is why I emphasise true dialogue and education from primary school on upwards. I support tolerance legislation, but I also fully realize that it's not enough to say, "Right, everybody be nice to each other, or else, K?" There needs to be many wheels turning at once - in the schools, in the hospitals, on the pavement, at the police stations - for people to really talk to each other and demystify the Other.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:42 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a bit of an unholy alliance between a rag-bag of far-right forces on this too. After the UK far right lost the argument of race in the 1970s - discovering that while their may well be widespread mild xenophobia, out-and-out racism would always lose out to even more ingrained notions of fair play and to its own intrinsic illogicality - they moved on to "cultural arguments" - the supposed incompatibility of any and all Islam with Western civic values. This suited certain Islamist political currents, who were arguing the same from the other side - Hizb-ut Tahrir and the like. Very ugly.
On preview - I see we should be presenting a joint paper on this, MStPT :p
posted by Abiezer at 2:48 AM on February 12, 2009


Yes! Me and you, Abiezer, weĺl get this fixed. Today, Peckham - tomorrow, East Yorkshire!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:59 AM on February 12, 2009


Fitna consists merely of Qu'an verses advocating violence & hatred together with video clips of violence & hatred, trying to make Islam look bad. You could make the same movie for most religions, which I guess Schism does for Christianity.

I can't imagine any such movie driving people to violence against the targeted religion, so your being quite disingenuous by banning the film. If it drives the targeted religion to violence, well this isn't really the creators problem.

People have the right to insult your deeply held beliefs, period. But, you know, no one will take them seriously unless you turn up & prove them right. Yes, you are proving them right by even asking your government to ban the film.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:04 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine any such movie driving people to violence against the targeted religion

The problem is, though, that milder forms of garbage than this movie actually do drive people to commit racially-motivated violence against brown-skinned people. Or at least gives them some sort of justification/incentive for doing so. I can appreciate a freedom of expression argument to be made when it comes to propoganda films, but there's no denying the impact scare tactics have with regards to ethnic minorities.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:24 AM on February 12, 2009


Also, as I understand it the film isn't banned.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:30 AM on February 12, 2009


Wilders has not been banned as a threat to public security because of his views on muslims. He has been banned under a little known law introduced during the time of Henry VIII under which anyone in possession of an offensive hairdo may be banned from the British isles as a threat to both themselves and anyone in eyesight of it.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:28 AM on February 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


It has always been a cause for shame whenever a person is banned from visiting the UK to talk. Whilst I doubt that Mr Wilders has much to offer the debate, there is no reason to restrict his expression of views. I understand that legally there can be an argument to restrict speech, but that doesn't mean there should be.

The most egregious case along these lines was the banning of the voices of IRA representatives, such that the news media had to over-dub them with actors. It makes us all look like fools.
posted by asok at 4:36 AM on February 12, 2009


Geert Wilders, the Jerry Lee Lewis of Dutch politics?
posted by asok at 4:38 AM on February 12, 2009


Whole lotta sheik-offendin' going on?
posted by Abiezer at 4:55 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah! He almost has the fist-chin rockin' in this pic, but instead went with some half-hearted "I'm holding my chin with my thumb and forefinger" non-pose.

Has someone banned the fist-chin in Holland?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:06 AM on February 12, 2009


Things definitely go downhill for the Dutch:

First there was Pim Fortuyn: not my cup of tea, but highly provocative, very clever, and certainly witty in his good moments (like his answer to a fundamentalist imam: "I certainly do not hate Muslims, sir. I've slept with plenty of young Muslim men!")

After Fortuyn's murder the torch was passed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali: more of a careerist than Fortuyn, but also provocative, very intelligent, and highly driven if not very funny (that role was reserved to the late Theo van Gogh).

After van Gogh's murder and Hirsi Ali's departure to the States, Wilders has sought to reclaim their mantle. Unfortunately, he's just your run-of-the-mill opportunistic far-right populist, not very clever, and certainly not funny.

I do pray for his continued health, though, especially considering that, if something untoward was to happen to him, his probable successor in the role of rabble-rouser-in-chief would be the utterly despicable Rita Verdonk (who, as it happens, helped drive Hirsi Ali out of Holland)...
posted by Skeptic at 5:40 AM on February 12, 2009


Some points of concern:

* He is not coming to launch or promote his film in public. He has been invited by members of the House of Lords to present to them privately. The executive (e.g. the President) is forbidding the legislature (e.g. the Senate) from seeing someone they want to see.
* The decision was not made by a judge but by the Home Office (i.e. the executive, in the US the President.)
* It is not clear whether the reasons for banning him are that (1) his visit may incite violence against Muslim Britons or (2) his visit may incite violence by Muslim Britons. Left-wing sources are alleging the former, right-wingers the latter.
posted by alasdair at 6:01 AM on February 12, 2009


What bothers me is that insane right wing loonies like him are poisoning the well for legitimate criticism of Islam, much as in the USA the insane right wing loonies have pretty much poisoned the well for a frank discussion of immigration. Were I into conspiracy theories I'd suspect that he and his ilk are closet Muslims out to delegitimize criticism of Islam; since I'm not I'll just assume he's a moron.

There's lots to dislike about Islam, especially as its practiced in the more backwards parts of the world. But when criticism of Islam is mixed with racism, religious preferentialism, and nationalism, the criticism loses its legitimacy. Worse, it makes it difficult for those who aren't racist and/or nationalist scum to be taken seriously when they offer non-racist and/or nationalist criticism.

I'm not a fan of Islam by any means, but honestly people like Wilders bother me a lot more than even the more rabid Imams. Which doesn't mean that the UK isn't being both hypocritical and setting a very bad precedent indeed in its current actions. Or that the Dutch government's censorship isn't very disturbing either. Wilders is a nasty little shit and I'd rather he wasn't poisoning the well for legitimate discussion, but I must stand up for his right to free speech.
posted by sotonohito at 6:22 AM on February 12, 2009


Oh, and I just love that the Dutch Foreign Minister is complaining about the UK denying entry to a guy the Netherlands is about to prosecute for inciting hatred and discrimination.

"Please don't make us take him back, Gordon."
posted by oaf at 6:59 AM on February 12, 2009


. . .(1) his visit may incite violence against Muslim Britons. . .

Because that always happens.
posted by resurrexit at 7:11 AM on February 12, 2009


The British government has capitulated to threats of violence. Disgusting. Wilders himself isn't going to beat or kill anyone, but the neanderthals waving signs such as "Behead those who insult Islam" just might. Meanwhile, Wilders - maybe awful, but no criminal - is the one facing jail time.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:13 AM on February 12 [1 favorite +] [!]


Mizanur Rahman and others who waved such signs and incited violence and murder are currently serving six years (a few had their sentences communted to four years on appeal, I believe) in prison. Link
posted by idiomatika at 7:24 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I say communted, you say commuted. Let's call the whole thing off.
posted by idiomatika at 7:31 AM on February 12, 2009


When the government attempts to enforce tolerance by denying individuals their right to an unpopular opinion, then yes, they are terrible.

Yes, that was my second point. I was addressing Krrrlson's links.
posted by ob at 7:45 AM on February 12, 2009


What, so I can only criticize X, if I'm also prepared to criticize Y and Z as well?

That makes no sense whatsoever. We don't say that people who criticize Christian fundamentalists must also be obliged to criticize Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc. in order to assess the validity of their arguments. Why should people who criticize Muslims be held to a different standard?


They shouldn't, that wasn't my point. I would say that in the west it's much more likely that people have been brought up Christian than Muslim, so criticism of Christianity has no sense of 'other' about it. It's pretty clear that the criticism of Islam is a smokescreen for outright racism. I mean, if you don't like immigrants and if the one thing that your main immigrant groups have in common is Islam, it's much easier and indeed desirable in this day and age to criticize their religion than to talk about their race. In the latter instance you just sound like a Nazi, in the former you are in fact a racist but you can attract all the left-wingers that just love the criticism of religion. So these guys have created a very convenient cover for the fact that they're racists. Again, I think that he should be allowed to speak in the UK, if only for people to see how ridiculous he is.
posted by ob at 8:02 AM on February 12, 2009


It is not clear whether the reasons for banning him are that (1) his visit may incite violence against Muslim Britons or (2) his visit may incite violence by Muslim Britons.

Curiously enough, after Fitna was released, the anticipated embassy-torchin' and burning of Wilders effigies etc. never happened.
Turns out that, even though it is certainly a skewed and offensive portrayal of Islam, the images and quotes he uses (footage of 9/11, terrorists chopping of peoples heads, actual quotes from the Quran) are accurate.

Thus, moderates were upset, but they're not the ones torching embassies.
And the radicals just shrugged saying "yeah, that's us alright."

The point is that even though the Wilders is perhaps insulting and offensive to Muslims as a cultural group, it's not blasphemous.

If the film had contained a few images of Mohammed, though, the reaction might have been totally different. But apparently that's a line that Wilders didn't want to cross.
posted by sour cream at 8:04 AM on February 12, 2009


"The point is that even though the Wilders is perhaps insulting and offensive to Muslims as a cultural group, it's not blasphemous."
Well we can at least be thankful that the same government had the good sense to abolish blasphemy as a crime in the UK.
posted by edd at 8:39 AM on February 12, 2009


Pim Fortuyn rocked! He was the high point of Dutch politics! You know, people tried calling Fortuyn racist, but it never stuck because his party had an enormous immigrant. Fortuyn epitomized everything people loved about Dutch culture, including the openness. Immigrants joined his party because they favored better integration, which includes fewer radical Imams.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:56 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the UK can declare Iceland a terrorist state, why not declare this wompus a terrorist, and keep him out?

Awesome post title
posted by QIbHom at 9:02 AM on February 12, 2009


You know, people tried calling Fortuyn racist, but it never stuck because his party had an enormous immigrant.

What, sort of like Andre the Giant?
posted by ob at 9:47 AM on February 12, 2009


his party had an enormous immigrant

A 20 stone, 7ft tall Bangladeshi?
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady at 10:05 AM on February 12, 2009


CURSE YOU, OB
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady at 10:06 AM on February 12, 2009


Sorry!
posted by ob at 11:39 AM on February 12, 2009


Hey, thanks Marisa Stole the Precious Thing, for some really insightful comments.

For anyone who is interested in any of these issues -- the contemporary dilemmas posed by European multiculturalism and European Islam to traditional concepts of tolerance, as well as specific happenings in Amsterdam -- I highly recommend Ian Buruma's Murder in Amsterdam. The title makes it sound like bad noir fiction, but I promise that it's much much better.

In re: Schism: Your favorite Bronze Age Religious text sucks.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:02 PM on February 12, 2009


Could you maybe summarize in a few sentences why you think Buruma's book is worth reading, foxy_hedgehog? I've heard of it but I haven't seen too much about it in Dutch media, oddly.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:26 PM on February 12, 2009


"It will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred, and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country."

That is absolutely laughable. The government of the UK has long welcomed "those who want to spread extremism, hatred, and violent messages". Hell, they even support them financially.
posted by MikeMc at 1:47 PM on February 12, 2009


his party had an enormous immigrant

What did they feed him? Where did he sleep? Just curious.
posted by MikeMc at 1:48 PM on February 12, 2009


Mizanur Rahman and others who waved such signs and incited violence and murder are currently serving six years (a few had their sentences communted to four years on appeal, I believe) in prison.

Worth repeating.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:28 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, because tolerance and a little give and take are terrible. Also the first article is a link to the Sun; I don't think I need to say more.

I've seen the give, where's the take? And do you have any refutation for the facts cited in the Sun article, or are you just full of shit?

Speaking of pandering, and give-and-take.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:45 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I mean, if you don't like immigrants and if the one thing that your main immigrant groups have in common is Islam, it's much easier and indeed desirable in this day and age to criticize their religion than to talk about their race.

That may be so, but that's no reason to put the discussion of their religion outside the bounds of reasonable discussion or criticism -- particularly where there are aspects of their religious practice that are so worthy of critique.

As someone points out, it's the 20th anniversary of the Rushdie fatwa. Rushdie wasn't an opponent of immigrants -- he was an immigrant himself. At that time, we considered *his* right to freedom of speech to be important enough to spend a small fortune defending it. I don't think the existance of the far right is a big enough threat to strip the rest of us of our rights in this respect -- which is what seems to be going on here.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:32 PM on February 12, 2009


I mean, if you don't like immigrants and if the one thing that your main immigrant groups have in common is Islam, it's much easier and indeed desirable in this day and age to criticize their religion than to talk about their race.

This is projecting racism onto others. Mainstream Islam and liberal secularism are pretty much acknowledged as incompatible in most ways by both sides, and no liberal secularist needs another reason to oppose it on intellectual grounds. On the other hand, any so-called liberal secularist would need a personal emotional hangup not to oppose it, ie, something to prove to themselves.
posted by Brian B. at 9:27 PM on February 12, 2009


Related.

Question: Is Saudi Arabia considered a backward part of the world?
posted by mullingitover at 10:33 PM on February 12, 2009


He is a hypocrite (source):

In 2007, Wilders called for the Qur'an to be banned
and then he says:
"Even if you don't like me and don't like the things I say then you should let me in for freedom of speech"

And the guy who invited him is also being provocative:
"Lord Pearson, who invited Wilders to Britain [...] revealed he had put down a motion for debate in the Lords urging the government to sponsor a conference into whether the Old Testament, New Testament and Qur'an contained justification for violence."
not to mention hypocritical:
"The peer initially said he did not believe there should be any limits to freedom of speech but when pressed conceded that there should be "a very few", such as language that incited violence."

IMHO, this is like yelling fire in a theatre -- he was invited to be provocative, the visit and was publicised, and guaranteed to bring out the useal rent-a-mob of protestors. But of course, by banning him the governement pushed it even more in the public eye...

Stupidity all around...
posted by nielm at 12:20 AM on February 13, 2009


I am uncomfortable with the notion that this man should not be allowed in to any country simply because he is a walking offense and a racist, however, one must look at the the laws of the land, previous actions in similar contexts, and the domestic security situation:

1) Does the UK Home Office ban others from coming in (typically, this would happen through the denial of a visa, but how does that work for those who don't need visas), because they promote illiberal or extremist views?

2) Who in the last twenty years' has the UK Home Office either denied visas to or banned for a similar reasons? Are those who have been denied entry similarly offensive?

3) What, if any, UK taxpayer money will need to be spent on protecting the entering racist?

4) How important is it to the UK Govt that the racist may become more popular in his home country because of their denial of entry, if at all?

On the third count, if the proposition is expensive, the UK Home Office could legitimately deny him entry, ask him to pay for his own protection, or let him know that he won't be provided protection and enters and moves about at his own risk. What is tricky is that he is a Dutch legislator, and they therefore may be obligated to protect him.

On the fourth count, the UK may or may not be concerned with the publicity aspect of denying him entry, and may decide in either direction, in response.

There are hate speech laws in the UK; freedom of speech is not unfettered anywhere in the world, in any country. What must be ensured is that this racist is not unfairly treated, and if their are laws providing one minority for historical reasons, the situation today may merit similarly protective laws for currently oppressed and disadvantaged minorities. Obviously, such hate speech laws will also apply to those opressed minority members who fulminate and incite violence on the streets or their centers of worship or even on the internet.
posted by Azaadistani at 12:45 AM on February 13, 2009


oops!

*last para: ... if there are laws protecting one minority ...
posted by Azaadistani at 12:54 AM on February 13, 2009


Bronze age in the middle east: 3300-1200 BC

Writing of the Qur’an: 610-632 AD

History Fail, foxy_hedgehog and mullingitover.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:04 AM on February 13, 2009


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: "History Fail, foxy_hedgehog and mullingitover."

You don't need my help anymore.
posted by mullingitover at 1:29 PM on February 13, 2009


Mainstream Islam and liberal secularism are pretty much acknowledged as incompatible in most ways by both sides, and no liberal secularist needs another reason to oppose it on intellectual grounds. On the other hand, any so-called liberal secularist would need a personal emotional hangup not to oppose it, ie, something to prove to themselves.

I have difficulty understanding what you mean by your terms here, in particular "mainstream Islam". I think you probably have a very different definition of what qualifies as "mainstream" (and for that matter, "acknowledged" by whom?). I'd mentioned Naser Khader up-thread. He's a Muslim, and a Danish MP for the Social Liberal Party and the Liberal Alliance. In fact, when the Mohammed cartoons controversy was running full steam, he defended the cartoonist's freedom of expression.

But of course not every Muslim living in the west is an activist like Khader. Most of them live their lives, go to work, pay taxes, hang out with their friends, and other boring, mundane things. I think it's this recognition, one that usually comes from first-person interaction rather than reading the Sun or jihadwatch, that accounts for this tolerance, rather than any "emotional hang-up".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:11 PM on February 13, 2009


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