Searchlight - March 2009
Dutch far-right parliamentarian Geert Wilders was refused permission to show his anti-Islam video clip Fitna at the House of Lords in the UK at the end of January. This had passed without much controversy but then Lord Pearson of Rannoch, a member of the ultra-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), and Baroness Cox decided to show Fitna on 12 February to a closed audience and invited Wilders to speak there.
The ploy flopped, however, when the Home office told him in a letter to "your presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society…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." Despite the ban, Wilders flew in to London's Heathrow airport but was promptly put on the first plane back to Amsterdam. Since 2005 around 230 people, among them Islamist hate preachers from the and the right-wing Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin, have been denied entry to the UK as threats to national security.
Wilders seems intent on grabbing every opportunity to project himself internationally. After showing Fitna at the "Facing Jihad" conference in Jerusalem in December, his next stop was the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg where his request to show Fitna in the EP building was rejected. Wilders' Freedom Party will contest the European Elections in June.
Wilders, who appears to have been badly stung by his treatment at the hands of the British government, lashed out at premier Gordon Brown, calling him the biggest coward in Europe and comparing the UK with Saudi-Arabia. Though members of the Dutch government had tried to prevent the denial of entry to the UK from being effected, Wilders brushed their efforts aside as "weak stuff".
Meanwhile, though the screening of Fitna went ahead at the House of Lords, attended by about thirty people, Wilders is still squealing and has appealed against his ban, claiming that he will be back. In the coming weeks, his destinations are expected to be Italy and the United States.
The next media-moment for the permanent "underdog" Wilders, though, will be court appearances following Amsterdam High Court's decision, at the end of January, to prosecute him for inciting hatred and discrimination via his remarks in various media about Muslims and their beliefs. The Court is also demanding prosecution for his insults to Muslim believers because of the comparisons he made between Islam per se and Nazism. The Court took these decisions after complaints filed at the Public Prosecutor's office over earlier decisions to not prosecute Wilders. A lower court in Amsterdam will hear the trial.
Jeroen Bosch for Alert! and Antifa-Net