Issue 246, Friday 30 October 2009 - 12 Dhu al-Hijjah 1430
Editorial 2: Hate preacher Wilders allowed in UK
The controversial leader of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, was allowed to preach his hatred of Islam and Muslims in the seat of mother of parliaments, the House of Lords earlier this month.
He said, “I have a problem with Islamic ideology, with Islamic culture. The more Islam we get in our society, the less freedom we will have.”
He justified his comparison of the Qur’an with Mein Kampf. “Don’t forget some people were very angry when I made the comparison between Mein Kampf and the Qur’an. I am not the first one to make that comparison. Winston Churchill and many others made that comparison.”
He proclaimed that his arrival in the UK was a “victory for freedom of speech” after an exclusion order was overturned by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. Wilders, who already faces prosecution in his home country for inciting hatred, took advantage of the Home Office delaying a decision whether to appeal against the lifting of the ban to attend a press conference in the House of Lords. On the one hand he claims he is for freedom of expression whilst on the other hand he has called for the banning of the Qur’an.
The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ruled on October 13 that there was no evidence to suggest that the Dutch MP represented a real and serious threat to the “fundamental interest” of society. The judges were reported to have said that even if there had been evidence, it would still have been wrong to turn him away because in the event of any trouble the police would have been able to deal with it. “It was more important to allow free speech than to take restrictive action speculatively,” they said.
This contrasted with when immigrations officials turned Wilders back at Heathrow airport in February, when officials enforced a Home Office exclusion order imposed on the grounds that his views could stir up “inter-faith violence”.
He was in London at the invitation of UK Independence Party peer Lord Malcolm Pearson to discuss showing his film ‘Fitna’ in parliament, which accuses the Qur’an of inciting violence.
The right to freedom of speech is recognised under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but it is not absolute in any country and is commonly subject to limitations, such as incitement to racial and religious hatred. In Britain, there are also prohibitions under the raft of terrorism legislation, including exclusion orders against ‘preachers of hate’.
The question must be asked whether allowing such divisive individuals and those like him who preaches hatred into the UK is conductive to the public good, especially given the media’s unhealthy obsession of given them provocative publicity. Either everyone should be permitted to enter and run the risks of sowing discord on British streets or there should be a level playing field of exclusions. The danger is in discriminating and setting a precedent to give unwarranted fiery oxygen to some under the guise of free speech.