Should Geert Wilders be allowed in?


9:58 am - February 12th 2009

by David Semple    


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The vaguely ridiculous figure of Geert Wilders will be no stranger to those on the internet who keep an eye on the politics of our continental cousins. Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, has been informed by the government that he will be denied leave to enter the UK under the laws which permit EU member states to deny any citizen entry on the basis of danger to public security. Whatever that means.

His film “Fitna” caused a stir amidst right and left wing circles when it was released last year. I got a chance to watch it last year and frankly I can’t see what the fuss is about. It shows quotes from the Koran and from Islamic fundamentalists besides images of 9/11, the 7/7 bombings and various other attacks by terrorists. Now he has been invited to show it in the House of Lords by (who else?) a UKIP peer.

Whether Wilders should be permitted to come to the UK, whether he should be permitted to show his video and whether or not the thesis of his video is correct are three different matters. To answer these questions, we must begin by categorizing him; is he racist? A fascist? “Just” anti-Islamic? I find the last troubling since I am anti-Islamic, and anti-all organised religions myself, but in no way similar to Geert.

Wilders wants a vast and vigorous extension of state controls to halt immigration and crack down on expressions of the Islamic faith within Dutch society. He has advocated that all Muslims be offered money to return to their own countries, much like our very own home grown Fascists, the BNP, have. But Wilders has said he should not be lined up with Jorg Haider or Jean-Marie Le Pen.

I beg to disagree. It is the nature of fascist parties to declaim against some mythic ‘enemy’ and to call for the cleansing of society by the expulsion of these elements. Nor is it unusual for these parties to call themselves libertarian whilst simultaneously demanding harsher penalties for criminals and a bigger state justice apparatus. They are only libertarian when it comes to expanding the private sector – say closing public television.

Of course, that’s only some fascists; the last item in particular can give way to a corporatism that still allows for private profit and individual greed. It does, however, nail Geert Wilders firmly down as a fascist. We have no idea what a Europe “purified” of Islamic elements would then turn to do to the Balkans or the Middle East – but thankfully, since Wilders is something of a crank, we don’t have to find out.

Should the government have the right to expel fascists? No doubt the far-right are complaining about how this good and Christian man is being refused entry to the UK while the Muslim Brotherhood /Abu Hamza / Clerics of Hate (delete as appropriate) are permitted to preach their message of death. Bearing in mind that the messages of all of these people are little different, if we’re deporting one bunch, we should keep out the other.

Does that mean, however, that the government should be trusted to this task? Deportation and denial of entry was a tactic very commonly used by European governments in the past. They used it to deny any number of famous revolutionary figures access to their countries. If we’re prepared to let Wilders be banned from entry, we have to know this is a tactic the government will find ways to use against socialists.

Obviously that’s not a factor right at the moment, since socialism is only gradually re-emerging to challenge capitalism once more, but free movement within Europe should be a general principle that we uphold. Thus I think that we would be wrong to demand that Wilders be kept out, and right if we insisted that he be permitted to enter the UK. But what about showing his video in the House of Lords?

That’s a different question – one which I would like to see the House of Lords called to vote on. In terms of what is permitted and what isn’t, the House of Lords should self-regulate – and I suspect and hope that they would vote down the showing of the video on the grounds that it is a shameless caricature of the Islamic religion, not to mention over-simplistic as regards the causes of terrorism.

Serious questions require serious debate – and neither Geert Wilders or his UKIP sponsor seem in a position to provide it. This is central to the argument; Wilders, a figure who wants free speech for himself and those who think like him yet thunderously demands the banning of the Koran and the kicking out of Muslims, is a hypocrite. Moreover, his argument (see here for example) is Idealist twaddle.

It’s an undeniable fact that Islam is the ideology which has motivated terrorist attacks on the West, but what about corresponding force demonstrated by that West? I doubt that even Wilders is so naive as to believe that European and American imperial occupation of the Middle East has only occurred over the years since 2001 and that before that, our governments never did anything that might inspire righteous anger.

Apologist for Islamic terror I am not; the terrorists must bear the responsibility of their actions. Yet so must the policies of the West and the policies of the Asian and African ruling classes, policies which have seen capitalism run rampant through these cultures, making very rich the client kings of capitalism’s New Rome and very poor just about everyone else. Not to mention the tyrants the West has imposed.

It is as rational as demanding that our leaders run the country with astrologers as their closest advisors. There is no contribution to be made by Wilders’ film, or by Geert Wilders himself, judging by his own words. But that doesn’t mean we should tolerate the government simply banning people from coming to this country – as with all state powers, one day it is used against the far right, but tomorrow it is used against socialists.

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David Semple is a regular contributor. He blogs at Though Cowards Flinch.
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Reader comments


I wonder if he’d have been banned if he’d made an insulting film about Christianity. Discuss.

I think he’s at best a shit stirrer and political opportunist and at worst a fascist . Let him in though, he can share his Youtube links with the rest of us.

Under government guidelines, yeah he’d probably have been allowed in had he made an insulting film about Christianity…whether or not he’d have been invited to the House of Lords is probably a different answer. Funny how that works out.

The right answer, I think, David – but arrived at by amazing working out. I think your argument goes like this:

1 – Wilders is clearly a fascist
2 – so perhaps we should keep fascists out
3 – but hang on, it’s a western government keeping him out so we should be against that in case they exclude socialists too
4 – by the way, the majority in the House of Lords should decide what the minority there can watch
5 – and as for Islamist terrorism, what about…
http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/01/09/gaza-an-end-to-whatabouttery/

I don’t agree with Wilders either, but to call him a fascist is OTT. I might have agreed if you’d called him a populist right-wing controversialist and clown.

But more importantly, you’ve used the “fascist” label to implicitly justify his exclusion in itself, allowing you to avoid specific discussion of how his presence here would harm anyone; and then nonetheless managed somehow to arrive at the right result while managing to bypass entirely the question of freedom of expression.

Your illustration shows precisely why he has been banned.

Not fear of inciting violence against Muslims, or his fascist views, but fear of violence from Muslims.
(Encouraged disgracefully by Lord Ahmed.)

Lord Ahmed has been demanding that Muslims commit violent acts and I missed it? Point it out to me, there’s a good chap.

As for why he has been banned, I suspect it is a combination of both reasons. If the British government really feared danger to his person, they could protect him – they’ve been doing it to Orangemen for long enough, forcing them down areas where they aren’t wanted.

If they fear that some young Muslims might be incited to riot because of this chap coming here, well that’s not beyond the bounds of possibility…but so what? It’s just as likely that white supremacist thugs would start a riot by kicking an arab-looking kid, just because they know the media will be looking for this sort of thing should Wilders be allowed in.

Whether Wilders should be permitted to come to the UK, whether he should be permitted to show his video and whether or not the thesis of his video is correct are three different matters. To answer these questions, we must begin by categorizing him; is he racist?

No, the first question is answered by the following: using what legal power can we prohibit him from coming here, and is this use of that power necessary and proportionate in this case?

I explained what legal powers can be used to prohibut him and whether or not the power is necessary and proportionate is contingent upon, in my view, categorizing why we might ban him, re: his views.

And I said so.

Dave S. – allow me to direct you to LC’s sister site.

http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/3155

“but so what?”

They probably didn’t want too many more of those delightful “behead those who insult Islam” placards.

Is it not time we removed laws on blasphemy and moved to the American tradition of free speech.
There are too many organisations who want to ban somethng or other and too many politicians willing to agree with them for a few votes. Too many people become too angry too quickly and then use this anger to demand imposition of controls on that which makes them angry. Too many people use their anger to validate their argument – I am angry therefore I am right !

Sunny, I think you should disemvowel anyone who says “but what about Christians! aren’t they persecuted compared to Muslims!”. It’s silly, irritating and always a means of distraction from the issue at hand.

However, given the protests we’ve heard about recently where book signings etc have been stopped because of fears of “Christian” protests, it’s plausible he might just have been banned for the same reason – being unable to guarantee safety.

12. Chris Baldwin

Banning him from Britain will probably annoy Melanie Phillips and the other people who spend their time obsessing about Islam, so I’m all for it.

This idiot is being excluded because his presence in the UK is not considered conducive to the “public good”. No doubt the fact that Lord Ahmed threatened the House of Lords with his “army of 10,000 muslims” had something to do with it.

But allowing fundamentalists to effect the obliteration of freedom of speech is wrong- always and in every circumstance. Muslims, Christians and every other religious group have to understand that the right to free speech has a long and proud liberal history and tradition in this country and that people have died to defend that right.

With a stroke of her pen, Jaqui Smith has shamefully dishonoured this tradition. Lord Ahmed should have been told to “bring it on” then charged with treason if he did.

“There are too many organisations who want to ban somethng or other and too many politicians willing to agree with them for a few votes.”

And in most cases these organisations have been set up by the politicians in the first place- and given fake charitable status.

This idiot is being excluded because his presence in the UK is not considered conducive to the “public good”. No doubt the fact that Lord Ahmed threatened the House of Lords with his “army of 10,000 muslims” had something to do with it.

That, if true, would be illegal. He is an EU citizen and we can only bar him if we believe that he, personally, whilst in this country, will commit criminal acts or directly threaten public order. The fact that many people seem to want to protest against him is a problem for those people and not for him – if we believe that violence is likely to ensue, the criminals in that case would be those carrying out violence, and Mr Wilders does not appear to be a violent person. Ergo there are no grounds to ban him.

I just hope that if he is allowed in, a more effective means of protest is found than violence, which will only end up reinforcing Mr Wilders’ own flimsy argument.

How lame is this country if we’re too scared to listen to the views of someone we disagree with? If we really believed in our liberal values we’d let him in, give him a platform then defeat him in debate.

I’m interested in these fascist parties passing themselves off as libertarians. Can you point me to some examples?

Dave S, it looked like you were approaching the issue from the ‘wrong’ angle.

I prefer HeadOfLegal’s approach – part one and part two.

#9
“Sunny, I think you should disemvowel anyone who says “but what about Christians! aren’t they persecuted compared to Muslims!”. It’s silly, irritating and always a means of distraction from the issue at hand.”

Warning! Liberal calls for intolerance!

“However, given the protests we’ve heard about recently where book signings etc have been stopped because of fears of “Christian” protests”

Blimey! They stopped a book signing! What a radical threat to nation stability! If only the suicide bombers had thought of such extreme protests.

The thing to remember in all this: violence works.

Yes, of course violence works. And no-one apart from you is suggesting that this fascist would be threatened by suicide bombers – I mentioned the book signing because the bookshop were worried about public order, which is exactly the same threat here. Finally, who said I was a liberal?

“Lord Ahmed has been demanding that Muslims commit violent acts and I missed it? Point it out to me, there’s a good chap.”

David, please have the decency to do a bit of research before posting on LC. Its pretty obvious from the above sentance that you’ve missed the crux of this situation.

15 – there’s this chap in the Netherlands called Geert Wilders who claims to be a libertarian and is the leader of “Party for Freedom” but is simultaneously in favour of arbitrarily oppressing Muslims and something approaching a police state. Have you heard of him? There’s a rather good post on Liberal Conspiracy about him and his views: you should check it out.

Text of the letter to Wilders as follows

“The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the Secretary of State is of the view that your presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society. The Secretary of State is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK.

You are advised that should you travel to the UK and seek admission an Immigration Officer will take into account the Secretary of State’s view. If, in accordance with regulation 21 of the immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, the Immigration Officer is statisfied that your exclusion is justified on grounds of public policy and/or public security, you will be refused admission to the UK under regulation 19. You would have a right of appeal against any refusal of admission, exercisable from outside the UK.

Yours sincerely,

Irving N. Jones

On behalf of the Secretary of State for the Home Department”

The key phrase is that his words “threaten community harmony and therefore public security”. Presumably this is double speak for the possible reaction to his words.

24. douglas clark

pagar,

You said @ 11

No doubt the fact that Lord Ahmed threatened the House of Lords with his “army of 10,000 muslims” had something to do with it.

Can you source that? Apart from the Brussels Journal, I can’t.

.‘Wilders wants a vast and vigorous extension of state controls to halt immigration and crack down on expressions of the Islamic faith within Dutch society.’
Do I wish to destroy the freedom of passers by to enter my house by putting a door on it ? You feel ‘yes’ obviously, I shall take it I am invited to your place on a permanent basis to eat your Tofu and courgette casserole vile though it no doubt is . The whole development of the state is intimately bound up with the protection of its people , it is quite perverse to decide that it is really poorly functioning source of free operations welfare and jobs for passers by…(although see your confusion given Labour Policy)
You say a ‘crack down ‘ on expressions of faith , but what you mean is the democratically expressed wish of the people that the character of their country ,be protected from those who hate it . In that those ‘cracking down’ are defending tolerance from intolerance , this a rather more nuanced debate that you would have believe in your self flagellating Finkish tip toe through the tulips
We know the people who cause the threat to our peace are not this Dutch Politician expressing views held by many but the violent extremist Muslims who are likely to cause who knows what mayhem when someone they do not like turns up. Isn’t the answer not to stop the man coming but to demand the Muslim community respects the law the ay the rest of us do if they wish to live under its protection .

PS -By the way Liberals I take it you are celebrating a triumph for the PR system in Israel , oh what a joy to behold it is

Its interesting isn

“Can you source that? Apart from the Brussels Journal, I can’t.”

No it is always described as something that was ‘reported’ to have been said.

I understand it was a remark made at a meeting involving the Labour Leader in the Lords and a couple of Muslim organisations but I can’t find where I read this.

In any case the remarks have been widely attributed, not denied and I have no reason to doubt they were said.

I believe they have been denied by Lord “texting while driving” Ahmed.

It does seem a little bit hypocritical to complain about immigration and then in the same breath to complain about this Dutch MP being refused entry to the country.

I understand it was a remark made at a meeting involving the Labour Leader in the Lords and a couple of Muslim organisations but I can’t find where I read this.

Not the first time Muslims have threatened the UK with violence under some queasy disguise unless we do as we are told . The BMC`s wish for us to change our foreign Policy so as to please thenm ..or else , springs to mind and many threats were made . So now we are a no – go area . Great

But Newmania, what if Wilders is using the video as a ruse to come here, claim our benefits and steal our women?

I understand it was a remark made at a meeting involving the Labour Leader in the Lords and a couple of Muslim organisations but I can’t find where I read this.

Not the first time Muslims have threatened the UK with violence unless we do as we are told . The BMC`s wish for us to change our foreign Policy so as to please thenm ..or else , springs to mind and many individual threats were made by ” Community leaders ”

‘It is as rational as demanding that our leaders run the country with astrologers as their closest advisors. There is no contribution to be made by Wilders’ film, or by Geert Wilders himself, ‘

I would say much the same about internationalist socialists which is more cranky and less likely to represent anyone

From The Guardian:

The Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, said that while it was important to defend freedom of speech, Wilders “has overstepped the line that should be defended in a civilised society”.

Fucking hell. Not amused.

Huhne was pathetic on R4 this morning – Humphreys pretty much demolished him without much effort.

I agree with David S, on this. The government should not have that sort of subjective power to stop individuals entering the country. I’m not sure whether Wilders has anything positive to contribute. He could be a liberal whose warped rhetoric is the product of being frequently threatened (that experience was sufficient to turn plenty of European Jews into neo-con sympathisers). Or he might not understand what liberalism is really about, in which case he is a reactionary Dutch/European nationalist.

I am also pretty sure that the boisterous demands from the Islamic community in the Netherlands does not have all that much to do with global justice – just the usual reactionary (especially reactionary in this case) interest groups trying to carve out a space within their community in which they can oppress individuals with near impunity. That is pretty abrasive when it comes against the fairly strong Liberal values that inhere Dutch society.

It does seem a little bit hypocritical to complain about immigration and then in the same breath to complain about this Dutch MP being refused entry to the country.

Does Wilders intend to settle here?

Seeing as it’s Wilders’ opponents rather than Wilders himself who are threatening violence, can we ban them from the UK?

Rob Knight’s quite right, and Richard’s question is the right one to ask – excluding him because of possible reactions to his presence may well be unlawful. Plus there are other legal problems too, like proportionality and the question whether he’s being treated differently from British people expressing the same views. Have a look at my blog if you want my full legal arguments.

#33

I don’t know. But many people are refused entry before entering the UK just in case they do decide to settle here, even when it seems unlikely. Deportation is legally difficult and expensive. The main way the UK prevents immigration is by refusing entry. So (and it’s only an aside) it amuses me that those people who tend to want to refuse entry to most foreigners are making an exception for a guy who, if he isn’t a fascist, isn’t far off.

Richard – 14

How lame is this country if we’re too scared to listen to the views of someone we disagree with? If we really believed in our liberal values we’d let him in, give him a platform then defeat him in debate.

Perfect point made, sir!

The irony is the image used in the OP.

Tim , I cannot dislike anyone who so clearly enjoys his own jokes excessively , yes yes very good

A few points:

“If we’re prepared to let Wilders be banned from entry, we have to know this is a tactic the government will find ways to use against socialists.”

Does that include national socialists?

“Obviously that’s not a factor right at the moment, since socialism is only gradually re-emerging to challenge capitalism once more,”

FFS, get out of the 19thC

“ but free movement within Europe should be a general principle that we uphold. “

Errr? Is that the free movement of labour so loved by the free-market capitalists?

“That’s a different question – one which I would like to see the House of Lords called to vote on. In terms of what is permitted and what isn’t, the House of Lords should self-regulate – and I suspect and hope that they would vote down the showing of the video on the grounds that it is a shameless caricature of the Islamic religion, not to mention over-simplistic as regards the causes of terrorism.”

Do we want politicians debating the authenticity, the bias and portrayal of every film about a sensitive subject?

“Moreover, his argument (see here for example) is Idealist twaddle.”
A socialist criticising “idealist twaddle”??

“Apologist for Islamic terror I am not; the terrorists must bear the responsibility of their actions. Yet so must the policies of the West and the policies of the Asian and African ruling classes, policies which have seen capitalism run rampant through these cultures,”

As opposed to socialism, which was used by the leaders of numerous Asian and African nations to justify slaughtering and subjugating millions of their own people.

Interesting speech from Wilders. A brave man in our present climate. I think he over-eggs it somewhat, but he does represent the concerns of a lot of people. I do, however, have a major problem. His main issue is with the level of immigration and the threats to Dutch identity and culture. He is wrong to direct this at the immigrants. Instead, he should direct his anger at the ruling left-leaning (and wholly hypocritical) white middle-classes, who are responsible for the policies.

Can someone explain why they think he is a fascist?

I think the Koran is full of hate – can someone please deport me to somewhere warmer?

Thanks.

I have just watched the film; which I would not have done without all the fuss. I think it should be shown in all schools, rather as films of Nazi atrocities were compulsary viewing in early post war Germany.

I’d like to see some of you fascists supporting a fundamentalist mullah’s right to “freedom of speech” if he wanted to come to the UK to decry the evils of the west. Hypocrites.

There’s no bar on fundamentalists denouncing the evils of the west – anymore than there are bars against home grown secularists and socialists making similar denunciations.

However there is a bar on religious fundamentalists calling for the deaths of Jews, homosexuals and ‘slags’ on dancefloors.

Wilders is not calling for violence, nor is his film expected to cause violence among his supporters: it is fear of reprisals that have caused the ban and once again the government has proved itself to be cowardly in the face of religious threats.

From The Times
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article5710559.ece

Lord Ahmed denies allegations in the Spectator that he had “threatened the House of Lords authorities that he would bring a force of 10,000 Muslims to lay siege to the Lords if Wilders was allowed to speak”. Lord Ahmed told The Times that he was considering legal action against the Spectator. A spokesman for the House of Lords did not comment on the allegation. Lord Ahmed said he had received “dozens if not hundreds of hate mail and threats as a result of Fitna” but told The Times he would not protest the screening of the film in Mr Wilders’ absence.

Please stop spreading rumours that have not been substantiated.

So he’s “considering legal action”. Was he texting his lawyer when he drove into a motorist, who died later died from his injuries?

Lord Ahmed’s position seems a bit screwed up; attacking the man but not the idea. Why is Wilders’ film any more or less abhorrent whether he is present or not? Surely Lord Ahmed should be taking issue with the screening of the film. Certainly that makes more sense that protesting merely Wilders’ presence.

Yet again our Government has pandered to intolerant violent Muslims. This man, however distasteful ,was attacking Islam which surely in a democratic country he has the right to do whether or not we agree with his opinion? To label him a facist for this is ludicrous. Why should religion, especially Islam, be held up on a pedestal and ring fenced against criticism? Any ideology or religion MUST and should be open to free debate abd criticism. The fear here, and therefore the risk to saftey, was not the fear of inciting violence against Muslims or the safety of Muslims, but fear of violence and therefore the safety of non Musilms from Muslims. It is a disgrace that yet again another freedom is being eroded in our country because we pamper to threats and indeed acts of violence from a section of angry and violent Muslims. We must work harder to insist on the right to freedom of speech, even when this criticises Islam, Christianity or any other religion/ideology and any religion that promotes an intolerance of freedom of speech against such must quite rightly – be critiscised.


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