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The Guardian: Geert Wilders anti-Islam film gets House of Lords screening


Geert Wilders anti-Islam film gets House of Lords screening

Dutch far right politician, who was last year banned from the UK, said film showing was a ‘victory for freedom of speech’

Sam Jones

Friday 5 March 2010 17.57 GMT

The controversial far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders appeared at the House of Lords today to screen an anti-Islam film and denounce the religion as “totalitarian” and incompatible with democracy.

The visit, which was originally planned for last year, sparked demonstrations from anti-fascists and a show of support from the far-right English Defence League.

Wilders, 46, who leads the Freedom party, was banned from the UK when Jacqui Smith was home secretary. She said his presence had the potential to “threaten community harmony and therefore public safety”.

Wilders succeeded in getting the ban overturned and told a press conference that he had screened his film in the Lords and discussed it afterwards in what he termed a “victory for freedom of speech”.

“I had to debate with people who disagreed with me and people who agreed with me,” he said.

Wilders said he had “nothing against Muslims whatsoever” but Islam was a “totalitarian religion”.

“Islamism and democracy are incompatible. The more Islam we have, the more freedom we will lose and this is something worth fighting for.”

Wilders, whose film describes the Koran as a fascist book, has received death threats for denouncing Islam and has been under close protection for more than five years.

This afternoon he repeated the views that have angered Muslims in Europe and across the globe, saying Islam was a “fascist ideology”, “a violent and dangerous religion and a retarded culture”.

Wilders, who visited the Lords at the invitation of the UK Independence party leader Lord Pearson and the crossbencher Baroness Cox, said: “Cultural relativism is the greatest disease we face in Europe today.”

Lord Pearson said that while he and Wilders – “a very great man” – agreed on many things he did not support his Dutch colleague’s desire for the Koran to be outlawed.

“If Geert is still calling for the Koran to be banned like Mein Kampf then I would not agree with him,” he said. “[But] the Koran should be very much more discussed among the Muslim community.”

When Wilders was asked whether he would engage with Muslims who reinterpreted their holy book in a manner more compatible with his views, he replied: “If you tear the hateful passages out of the Koran, you would get Donald Duck.”

In any case, he said, Muslims would never abandon the text of what he called “a terrible book”.

Lord Pearson denied suggestions that Wilders’s visit had been a publicity stunt designed to woo those on the far right, saying it was a multi-party event.

Asked how many people had attended the event in the Lords, he said “about half a dozen”, adding that he was not aware of any objections or boycotts.

Wilders was escorted from the press conference as a crowd of about 100 protesters from Unite Against Fascism (UAF) demonstrated against both his visit and the presence nearby of the far-right English Defence League, who had turned out to welcome the Dutch politician.

A large-scale police operation ensured that UAF and the EDL were kept well apart.

While the anti-fascists were waving placards reading “EDL+BNP=Nazi racist thugs” and chanting “EDL, go to hell, and take your Nazi mates as well”, members of the league were massing further up the Thames outside Tate Britain.

When the English Defence League came to London. Link to this video
After waiting around for two hours outside the gallery and in a nearby pub, the 300 EDL demonstrators began marching towards Parliament Square just before 2.30pm.

Flanked by mounted officers and escorted by a thick police line, the EDL members wore shirts bearing the names of their divisions – Glossop, Blackburn, Oldham, Stockport, Merseyside – and carried placards reading: “Gert [sic] Wilders, England Salutes You” and “England needs a Gert [sic]”.

The point of the march appeared to have been lost on at least one EDL member. Spying a Dutch tricolour carried in salute to Wilders, he asked his fellow demonstrators: “What you got a French flag for?”

Source: The Guardian

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