In the summer of 2008, as many readers know, I traveled to six European countries to interview politicians dedicated to breaking, halting and/or reversing the Islamization of their countries (here is a collection of some of the writings inspired by the trip).
One of those politicians was Geert Wilders, then the little-known (outside of the Netherlands) leader of a very small party, PVV, the Party for Freedom. Only a year and a half later, Wilders is the most famous Dutchman in the world, and his party rivals the current ruling party in popularity. Wilders is also now on trial for his political life and liberty -- hardly a coincidence.
But Wilders is not the only politician in Europe fighting Islamization. In my travels, I learned there were other countries where extremely courageous men and some notable women had entered the democratic arena to defend Western liberties against the onslaught of sharia (Islamic law), and with electoral success. In interviewing such politicians, I was much impressed with their political and, in these times of jihad violence, physical courage. Sadly, it remains the case that no US politicians speak with either the candor or understanding of the Islamic threat besetting the West that at least some of their European counterparts do.
With Wilders' trial begining tomorrow, I contacted three of the politicians I interviewed on my trip and asked them for their thoughts today. They have obliged -- and in English, which is worth noting. In alphabetical order, they are Filip Dewinter, leader of the Vlaams Belang party in Belgium, Oskar Freysinger, a member of Swiss parliament for the Swiss People's Party (lately in the news for the recent victorious Swiss referendum banning minaret construction in Switzerland), and Morten Messershmidt, a member of European Parliament for the Danish People's Party.
Filip Dewinter wrote:
“Loquendi Libertatem Custodiamus”.
“Let us safeguard the right to speak”, the inscription reads on the statue of Pim Fortuyn. The Dutch politician was murdered in Hilversum, and a statue in his honor has been erected in the Korte Hoogstraat in Rotterdam. It seems though that the Dutch government has not drawn any conclusions following the murder of Pim Fortuyn. The trial against Geert Wilders is a murder attempt as well! Premeditated murder of democracy and freedom of speech. According to the summons, Geert Wilders is guilty of “insulting the Muslim population by insulting Islam, hatemongering against Muslims and inciting discrimination against Muslims, Moroccans and other non-Western immigrants.” The trial against Geert Wilders is very similar to the judicial procedures that have led to the conviction and the dissolution of Vlaams Blok. It concerns also a so-called opinion offence, in which a court judges and possibly convicts certain political beliefs. A successful political party – like Vlaams Blok – is being criminalized and silenced when convicted. What cannot be achieved by democratic elections, happens in court. However, a possible conviction of Geert Wilders will not only be harmful to his PVV party. A negative verdict will not just make any form of Islam criticism impossible. There is a real chance that a conviction will shut the door on any form of criticism on an ideology or a religion. Each time someone feels insulted by strong criticism on an ideology or a religion, things get out of hand. The permanent threat of trials, judicial procedures and convictions leads automatically to auto-censorship.
Auto-censorship based on repression leads to one-way thinking and indignation, because freedom of speech – the cornerstone of democracy – has to make way for the newspeak of a politically correct, fake democracy. The boundaries of freedom of speech are clearly defined: whoever calls to violence or makes slanderous statements, needs to be prosecuted. However, expressing an opinion can never be a criminal offence. Eventually, parties and politicians with dissenting opinions threaten to become the victims of a judicial witch hunt and media lynching. The trial against Geert Wilders does not only endanger freedom of speech, but gives free play to radical Islam. A possible conviction of Geert Wilders will be an excellent precedent for several Muslim organizations in Europe to silence Islam critics and to continue the process of Islamisation.
Undoubtedly, the trial against Geert Wilders will give his party a brief electoral boost. However, on medium term, the establishment wants to put up a cordon sanitaire around Geert Wilders, on the moral basis of a conviction of racism. Geert Wilders needs to be politically liquidated, that is the only intention of this trial. Europe has to make a choice: a democracy in which freedom of speech is guaranteed, or a return to Middle Age society.
Oskar Freysinger wrote:
A democratically elected member of the Dutch parliament shall be forced to silence because his critical words on Islam could disturb the noise made by those who preach hate and war against freedom and democracy.
Previously, he has been denied entry into Great Britain where some preachers propagate jihad without restraint.
Is there a justice for religious extremists and another for democratically elected citizens?
As a member of the Swiss parliament, I support the right of Geert Wilders to speak freely about all problems his fellow countrymen are facing. Even if this indisposes a religious group.
The end of the freedom of speech is the end of democracy!
Morten Messerschmidt wrote:
A conviction of Wilders is a conviction of free speech
The trial against Geert Wilders, MP, leader of the Party for Freedom, is not a trial in the ordinary sense of the word. It is a political trial, and there is much more at stake here than catches the eye. If Geert Wilders is convicted of using his freedom of speech, which should be guaranteed by the constitution in the democratic Netherlands, it is an attack on freedom in general and on the right to speek freely in particular. What does Mr. Wilders crime consist of? He has made a short film which combines the words of the Koran with horryfying pictures of - among others - women vicitimized by the rigid sharia-laws. Furthermore he has been advocating that the Koran should be banned - but he has done so in a country where Hitler´s "Mein Kampf" has been banned since the end of the Second World War on the ground that it represents a violent ideology. And so does the Koran. I don´t share the view that certain books should be banned, however, I respect Geert Wilder´s right to publish his views in the media.
If Geert Wilders is convicted a whole new standard of democracy will be seeing the light of day in Europe. Europe will have taken another step towards islamization, and attacks -- even physical -- against men such as Geert Wilders -- and as we saw recently on the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard -- will have a kind of backing from the courts. Once the islamists know that the judicial system has bowed down to the claims of the islamist, we are not likely to reduce religiously induced violence, but to further it even more. Geert Wilders has not only risked his life, he also has to live in a reduced world under the strict surveillance of his security guards -- and in case of a conviction he would become an outlaw and would eventually fall prey to the hatred of the islamists.
In Denmark the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard on the first day of this year escaped his death by a breath. A young islamist of Somali origin broke into the home in Århus where Kurt Westergaard was enjoying the company of his 5-year old granddaughter, armed with an axe and a knife, and with his mind set on slaying the cartoonist in an act of vengeance because Westergaard had insulted the Prophet by drawing an innocent cartoon for a Danish paper. Fortunately, Kurt Westergaard managed to escape into his bathroom which had been transformed into a fortress. From there he managed to push the alarm button and he and his granddaughter were saved in the last moment. If Kurt Westergaard had been convicted of using his freedom of speech, people would have looked differently on this incident. The aftermath, however, showed that the united Danish population and media backed up behind Westergaard. When Wilders is standing trial this coming Wednesday the judge should bear in mind that in convicting Geert Wilders he will end up fueling the hatred of the islamists - and the cost of free speech.