Ed West is a journalist and social commentator who specialises in politics, religion and low culture.
Geert Wilders is free to enter Britain
It’s being reported that Dutch MP Geert Wilders has won his appeal against being banned from the UK. According to Radio Netherlands:
The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in London has ruled that the British government was wrong to deny populist Dutch politician Geert Wilders entry to the United Kingdom. Mr Wilders planned to show his film Fitna to the British parliament. The government refused to allow him to enter the UK on the grounds that he represented a threat to public order. It is not clear whether the tribunal’s decision means that Mr Wilders is now free to travel to the UK. The British government has not yet reacted to the ruling.
Whether or not one agrees with Wilders’ views on Islam, which make me look like “Koran” Armstrong in comparison, the ban was outrageous. Britain allows all sorts of shady and colourful foreigners to use our premises for their nefarious activities – in contrast here was an elected representative of a democratic European party who was invited by two British parliamentarians to privately broadcast a film about religious fundamentalism.
Wilders had every right to come here, and as far as I can see the only reason he was banned was cowardly British fear of French-style riots. Lord Ahmed, a self-proclaimed Muslim “leader” who, unlike Wilders, has never been elected by anyone, said that Wilders’s criticism of his religion was “an incitement of religious and racial hatred”. He denies saying he would bring down 10,000 protesters to the Lords, but there was a definite air of surrender in the air.
Meanwhile the Government’s great friends, the Muslim Council of Britain, called Wilders “an open and relentless preacher of hate”. (This is the same MCB that has been reluctant to attend Holocaust Memorial Day and objects to mention of the “alleged Armenian genocide” and the “so-called gay Holocaust”.)
Wilders for his part has never preached hatred against any people, only a religion, and has flatly said “I don’t hate Muslims, I hate Islam”. (Plenty of my friends absolutely hate Christianity and wish it driven off the face of the earth, but I don’t take it as a personal affront. That’s because I’m a grown-up). Wilders has also compared the Koran to Mein Kampf and its founder to a terrorist, and has talked about a growing Islamic population with dread. He said: “Take a walk down the street and see where this is going. You no longer feel like you are living in your own country. There is a battle going on and we have to defend ourselves. Before you know it there will be more mosques than churches.”
Whether or not one shares his views on Islam, and I disagree that there can’t be a “moderate Muslim” (I think there can, and are), there is rich irony in a situation where a man warning about Islam threatening western freedoms is banned from speaking in the very home of Parliamentary democracy. (Another irony, of course, that it’s the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal that has ruled in favour of a man who wants to keep terrorists out.)
Wilders has called it “fantastisch nieuws”, and I for one agree.