Geert Wilders – martyr for free speech or public safety threat?

February 13, 2009

Right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who is being prosecuted at home for anti-Islam remarks, has been barred from entering Britain.

He had been invited to show the House of Lords his film “Fitna,” which argues that the Koran incites violence, but was told his opinions could “threaten community harmony and therefore public safety” and sent back home again when he arrived at Heathrow.

Defending the decision to bar him, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said: ”A hate-filled film designed to stir up religious and racial hatred in this country is contrary to our laws.”

But Wilders called Gordon Brown the biggest coward in Europe and added: ”I think a discussion is always better than barring people or turning people away.”

Do you think he should have been allowed in to show his film?

40 comments

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Smith = Chamberlain
Wilders = Churchill

There is a very large elephant in the room and Wilders is one of the few men brave enough to point it out.

Posted by stephen | Report as abusive

Yes, Wilders should have been allowed to have come to Britain to show his film.

We have free speach in our country, and no one should be afraid of speaking their mind. ( but many are)

The government was told their would be a Muslim riot if Wilders was allowed to come to Britain, THAT is the problem ! not Wilders .

Posted by Moonswift | Report as abusive

Galileo Galilei was put in jail for saying things that the Roman Catholics did not want to hear. I think it is wrong to stop debating with people that don’t agree with you.

Posted by Ramses | Report as abusive

Of course he should have been allowed. It’s astounding you would even ask.

Posted by dimmer Jones | Report as abusive

I wonder who is more facist – Geert Wilders for being anti-Islamic, or the UK Government for being anti freedom-of-speech? I don’t defend Geert Wilders’ views, but as a Brit, I am ashamed of our government today. Freedom of speech must always trump the right to not be offended – otherwise our country is in a lot of trouble.

Posted by Roy Gilbert | Report as abusive

Wilders is neither a “martyr” or a threat to public safety. He should of course have been allowed in for the purpose for which he was invited. The House Of Lords could then have made its view of his politics known by the traditional means in a free society – by boycotting the screening of his film.

The British Government has instead managed to demonstrate both its own repressive nature and the danger to British society posed by the willingness of Muslims to achieve their aims by the threat of street violence instead of political, cultural or religious debate.

The government’s actions serve as a further wake-up call to the British people to assert their democratic rights and reclaim control of their country from the extremists in 2010.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

Everyone should make up their own mind about the film – it’s available on Google and no doubt elsewhere. Having seen it I’m rather puzzled by Miliband’s description of it as a “hate-filled film”. “The Nazis: a warning from history” was a “hate-filled film”, but they didn’t ban that.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

The British government has now caved in to bullies and oppressors of free speech. One may disagree with Mr. Wilders’ opinions, but he is a legitimately elected representative to the Dutch parliament and has the right as any to express his opinions.

By succumbing to the threats of bullies who will be upset if Mr. Wilders is admitted to UK, the British government has taken a position on the illiberal side of human rights and free speech. The government’s job is to protect free speech, not suppress it.

But sadly, the British government has displayed a regrettable lack of decency, morals and principals.

Ochlocracy is now the order of the day.

Posted by Petter | Report as abusive

Yes. He should have been allowed to show his film, if we are to consider ourselves a free and democratic society.

It really is up to the opponents of Wilders to discredit his claims.
Let the people see it and draw their own conclusions, if that leads us down the road to intolerance, then so be it, that’s democratic freedom for you!

Unfortunately, discussion on race and immigration in this country is tempered by ‘racial hate laws’, so debate is curtailed and we are left with democracy and freedom ‘up to a point’, which has been much mocked over the years outside the western world.

p.s
These issue are normally dealt with in a much more discreet/low key manner, so one suspects foul play and showmanship here!

Posted by john doegoto | Report as abusive

This story shows just how lax and indulgent the UK government is… Religion and politics just don’t cut it!
No one says anything about Subways and Domino’s pizza becoming all halal. This is not fair to impose religious beliefs to other faith or atheists!
I remember seeing radical muslims marching in London with banners claiming “death of the UK and Western world” etc. What is going on?…

Posted by ANNE | Report as abusive

Freedom of expressions should be paramount – no restrictions. I may disagree; I often do, but people should be free to express opinions, however loony. Even the criminalisation of “Holocaust denial” is wrong. Deniers of the Holocaust are loonies but making an opinion illegal really is getting us well on the route to “1984″.
Mr Wilders should be allowed in, as should all of the others who have been banned. And, as an EU citizen, he should have complete freedom to enter the UK, as we should to enter any other EU country. Extreme opinions are best countered by laughter and ridicule, rather than being given the respectability of martyrdom.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

It is nearly funny, if it wasn’t so scary.

Wilders being denied entry into the Uk makes the point he is trying to make-freedom of speech.

Have we gone that far down the politically correct path!

Besides that, it gives the impression that we are slightly patronising of Muslims in this country- believing the slightest ‘contrary’ opinion will ignite a wave of upset. Nice stereotype Gordon Brown?!

Posted by Tweezer | Report as abusive

Certainly the Dutch MP should have been allowed to enter Britain, we are a nation of free speech or are we now that the politically correct freaks appear to be running the country instead of the government.What’s this country coming to if you cannot voice your opinions legitimately.

Posted by Tansy | Report as abusive

There is a law in the United Kingdom against anything considered to be inciting racial or ethnic hatred. To be fair, this law was eventually enacted against Islamic extremists who marched in London displaying banners adorned with murderous anti-western slogans. The proposed showing of Geert Wilders’ film might be claimed by some to potentially violate the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994.

However, it is my understanding that in just over three years only one person has been deported from Britain (in 2006) for “fomenting extremism.” Following the July 2005 terrorist attacks in London, measures were promised which would see foreigners deported or barred from entering Britain for justifying terrorism and encouraging hatred between communities.

Only two people have since been stripped of UK citizenship as part of those measures; and only nine people have been deported on “national security grounds”. I hope that the foreign preachers of religious and ethnic hatred living within the safety of the UK are treated with the same level of concern as that accorded to Mr. Wilders.

Posted by Matthew Wilde | Report as abusive

Once more this goverment has given in to the muslims why not make us all go to a mosque on friday to pray for the banishment of christians.The sooner we have a civil war to get rid of all the loony left and that includes the labour party the sooner the better

Posted by winistoni | Report as abusive

As a woman who would not have liked to live during the middle ages or at the age of my grandmother because of what I know of her life, I am scared of zealots, fanatics and narrow minded men in general who do not treat women as I am used to be treated now, an equal human being with a diference. I worry for my daughter and grand daughter and girls all over the world. I love civilization and the idea that people respect others, and that their freedom do not stop mine and vice versa. I discovered England when I as twenty + and was amazed by the people of that country, the feeling of freedom, of indenpendance of mind, the politeness, the queues,the sense of humour and their kindness or sens of fairness. Where are we all going? Europe and the world, if England gives in to intolerance and domination of violent and intolerent men only. As we have a tendancy in Europe to follow England 50 years later, I am very worried. In this case fais is not fair.

Posted by Marie Josée | Report as abusive

it is appalling that mr wilders was denied the fundamental human right of free speech – as one would expect under communism, fascism, and sharia. whilst freedom of speech excludes shouting “fire!” in a crowded theatre, i was unaware of anything in the common law of the uk and usa forbidding the free expression of ideas just because the libtards’ special-people-of-the-month might get mad and suicide-bomb a few more jewish daycare centres. your judges and magistrates should be keelhauled

Posted by jd | Report as abusive

Yes, he should have been allowed in, but the fact that he wasn’t may open a few eyes to the bigoted nature of the current regime and hasten its demise.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

In the past few years two extremely fanatic Islam clerics have been banned from the UK just like Geert Wilders, one of whom was Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Their opinions were of course completely the opposite of his.

As far as I can remember there was no big uproar about them being banned from the UK, and very few if any people seemed to be running around saying that free speech was under threat.

Now that a white catholic Dutch politician is banned, so many people are upset, WHY ??? How come no one cared when the fanatical muslims were banned, if free speech should be allowed then shouldn’t they be permitted to enter the UK and preach their beliefs that all infidels must die?

There are many cases where people have been sent to jail for denying the holocaust . . . when all they they were doing was “supposedly” excercising their right to free speech.

I’m very sorry but if you believe that the UK ban on Geert Wilders is a restriction on freedom of speech and shouldn’t have happened than you must also believe that radical fundamentalist islams can spread and preach their word of hate wherever and whenever they want and that holocaust deniers can do the same.

Personally, I believe what the UK government did what was entirely fair, given that they banned people like Yusuf al-Qaradawi, they should of course also have banned Geert Wilders.

Posted by Miles | Report as abusive

As an american of british parents, I’m embarrassed by the UKs capitulation to the politically correct crowd and especially the intolerant islamic religionists. How about showing some backbone for a change in the name of free speech.

Posted by David A | Report as abusive

I really don’t understand Englands position in this. You were hit by terrorists some years ago! You should have let our MP in.
But our PM is just as scared as you PM. One day later it was just a storm in a glass of water.
Think for yourself who in the end is the only winning side in all this?

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive

The comments posted are all in support of Mr Wilders and that shows how completely out of touch the Labour Government is with the sentiments of the majority of Britons. It and its lackeys constantly suppress ancient freedoms won through the sacrifice of OUR ancestors. They are desperate to kow tow to a thuggish minority who should never have been allowed to come here [or, at least, come here without swearing an oath to defend OUR way of life - and not the way of life of the failed states from which THEY come]. All this in the name of ‘multiculturalism’ or, as it should be more correctly termed, ‘insanity’.

The Labour Party was returned to power by about one quarter of the electorate at the last general election. Since then it has made no attempt to govern for all [or at least the majority] of Britons. It has packed every quango with its own sleazy placemen and laid our constitution waste. If we got a written constitution which resembled that of the U.S.A. [which was written by Britons offended by the government of their day] the Labour Party would disappear for ever. Such a vile conspiracy of greed, hypocrisy, dishonesty, incompetence and lies would be done away with forever.

Posted by SanePerson | Report as abusive

Wilder’s film Fitna just tells the truth.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid= 3369102968312745410

Posted by Leo | Report as abusive

He was invited by the House of Lords for a meeting within the confines of the Palace of Westminster. The House of Commons and the Home Secretary have no jurisdiction to debar a legitimate politician from Europe.

Posted by John Tanner | Report as abusive

i emigrated to america because i saw this coming.the blame falls squarely on the insipid leadership of the church of england with their compromises to try to be politically correct in the 80,s and 90sif they had stood firm on their faith like the catholics, everything would have been a lot better for everyone including the muslims.as a none catholic i have nothing but admiration for their belief, i dread to think about the consequences if they had not been around.pray for the american church it is now being weakened by progressive clergy who are so far away from the principles of scripture,to even feel abortion and gay matrimony are ok.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

If Dutch MP Geert Wilders made an anti Catholic remark, I’m sure he would not be barred from entering Britain. But since it was an Anti Islam remark, he was barred from entering Britain. Indeed, the Anti Christ mentality have deeply penetrated our world through politics. I appeal to all Christians to unite ourselves in praying and resisting evil in our society. We must not be afraid in bringing our faith to the public square.

Posted by Daniel Rosaupan | Report as abusive

I live in the Berkeley-San Francisco nexus of political correctness. In the name of “tolerance for diversity” the PC crowd has become the PC thought control police. They are smug, sanctimonious, assured of their moral and intellectual superiority. They are also parochial, intellectually dishonest, morally bankrupt, and I really must add: profound cowards (aren’t all bullies?). But these fools are not wielding the power of the state. To see their English brethren empowered to use the tools of State to silence Geert Wilders is shocking. Imagine England of the 1930′s deporting Winston Churchill for having been a voice crying out in the wilderness against Chamberlain’s submissive appeasement to the fascism of the National Socialists. Geert Wilders plays a similar role is speaking unpopular truths. As an American with deepest admiration for the role the Brits have played in advancing political freedoms over the centuries, I am deeply saddened to see the national leaders embracing dhimmitude before they are even compelled to..(yeah, yeah, I know; British history includes colonialism, warfare, slave trade, etc. Grow up! The history of humanity is imperfect. The relative comparison is humanity, not utopia. And the Brits stack up pretty well over time.)

Posted by Smith | Report as abusive

[...] Reuters – Geert Wilders – martyr for free speech or public safety threat? [...]

Of course he should have been let in!
It is always important to talk with people.
Ignoring them only makes them martyrs and makes the debate distorted.
Truth and facts are important – hiding them only gives birth to conspiracy theories and speculation.

Posted by Pelena | Report as abusive

Whether or not the language used in the Koran incites violence is a matter for debate and Wilders should have been allowed into the country to engage in that debate. A free society need have no fear of Wilders.

The real danger to community harmony and public safety lies in the language used by Milliband. In one sentence he manages to stifle free speech; to instil fear of religious and racial conflict and to reinforce the alien concept of “hatred” in the UK, where there is no evidence that it exists except in the minds of a few unstable individuals and in legislation introduced by the current government.

This use of inflammatory language is a technique used by oppressive regimes throughout history to further their own aims by fomenting discord and fear amongst their opponents. Milliband and his party are a danger to the nation and need to be turned out at the next election.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

if this man had made comments against jews and did the samething to jews as he did to muslims, he would have been labeled an anti-semit and would have been ridiculed and condemed by every government in the world and still would not have been allowed to enter the UK or US. however now that he said something against islam, people tend to use the whole “free speech” mantra and the “we are a free society” stance to tolerate this scum. regardless of whether he was doing this against jews, christians, muslims, hindus,whoever, a country has a right to deny entry to someone who stands for racisim and hate. i commend the UK for this moral stance

Posted by sidney | Report as abusive

It is instructive that any real or implied criticism of Islam is met by vitriolic abuse and threats of violence from those who claim that the Koran teaches “tolerance” and “peace”.

Posted by Jason | Report as abusive

I am not questioning Mr. Wilders motives or feelings about Muslims and Islam, and as a freeman he has the right to express his views hopefully in a fair and balanced manner. Mr. Wilders expressed on several occasions that he was not against Muslims but against Islam and he wants to ban the Quran. He yet advocates “freedom of speech”!. Is the freedom of speech a right only for a few like him and not for “others”?

As strong believer of Freedom of Speech, I would like to invite Mr. Wilders for a debate that I would like to do even though I am not a religious authority and not a politicians but ordinary professional. This debate should be in a public forum so the people can judge his views. I have faith in the people’s judgment.

Posted by Moe El-Gamal | Report as abusive

I really admire Geert Wilders for having the courage to expose the truth about Islam. Even the son of Hamas founding leader Mosab Hassan Yousef made a prior statement similar to that of Wilders. He should have not been barred from entering UK since I don’t think that telling the truth is a crime! This is not a matter of being an Anti Islam but this is a matter of what is the truth and how will people be liberated from a religion that condones violence. Qur’an according to Mosab teaches violence especially in dealing with people whom they consider as infidels. Islam also teaches to kill any Muslim who changes his religion. And these teachings are being uphold by terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and Taliban. No matter how Muslim scholars would like to tone down this truth about their religion, it will still remain a religion of violence especially when they are dealing with non Muslims.

Posted by Daniel Rosaupan | Report as abusive

I love reading some of the comments by people such as daniel,apparently he is an exper on islam, perhaps u might what muslims call an “imam” a spiritual leader, seeing that you are able to tell all of us “what islam really is” and the fact that you are able to translate the what the quran says. perhaps if your knowledge was based on a more educated and correct basis, you would’ve avoided looking a ignorant bigot, much like Geet Widers. going back to my comment earlier, if this man had made comments that were considered “anti-semetic” he would’ve been blasted and ridiculed, but since he made comments against islam, he is considered ” a hero” and “brave”. Seeing the type of ignorance and stupidity that exists in this world, its easy to see why the world is in the state that it is in today. stupidty, ignorance, and hypocrisy have replaced education, morality, and rationality.

Posted by sidney | Report as abusive

Wilders should categorically not have been banned from the UK. Almost everything published is offensive to someone ; you either have freedom of speech, or you
don’t – there’s no intermediate position. In Britain,
we most certainly don’t any longer have free speeach.

Posted by R.K. Hopkins | Report as abusive

Sidney, I agree with you that he will be ridiculed if he made statements against Jews. But if you have read my past comments, I also defended Bishop Williamson’s right to speak as to the truth of the holocaust. I also made strong comments against those who resort to demonizing and name calling rather than presenting solid arguments against his opinion. I And I will make the same comment on your comments. If I were you sidney, present to us reasonable arguments that will overturn our contentions. Conjectures, name calling and demonizing should not be the tone of your comments. Your behaviour only demonstrates how Muslims deal with their dissenters if indeed you are a Muslim.

Posted by Daniel Rosaupan | Report as abusive

He is definitely a threat to public safety. All his film has done is spread hate and racism.

Posted by Rainbow | Report as abusive

I assume, following the explusion of Geert Wilders from these shores for daring to question Islam, that the entire Monty Python team will also be expelled for creating “The Life of Brian”. Or am I missing something.?

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Geert Wilders should have been allowed to present his film. An elected politician was invited by a British Lord for a private screening. It was not for the the Home or Foreign Secretaries to interfere in the screening. No crimes were planned.

By banning an innocent man the Government has shown abject cowardice. To appease possible violence before it happens is to appease those who intend to beak the law. Wilders does not condone violence and the Lords who were to see the film were most unlikely to cause it. This is appeasement, pure and simple, and it will backfire on the cowards who ordered it.

The “hatred” in the film is not of Wilders’ making; he simply relays it. See the film please.

Truth cannot be suppressed for long: it will eventually prevail.

What is all this media hype and double standards over freedom of speech when the very refuge and media watering hole for most of these journalists types, the famous Groucho Club are themselves taking a pre publishing test case to the High Court for libel against the author of a book in writing titled The Groucho Gate Affair. How can any journalist or author with even a shred of integrity sit and socialise in a media club that is trying to stifle the very principal of free speech that these journalists claim they protect. Perhaps these journalists and media types should consider putting their own house in order before they embark on such a noble crusade to protect freedom of speech. Anyone who takes an action for pre publishing liable test cases will if successful change the law for the worst and if this happens then we all lose especially the journalists.
These journalists need to stop the hypocritical babbling and sink your heads in shame. Next time you are having a drink at the famous Groucho Club consider reading up on article 10 and what it means to have free speech

Posted by EF Orwell | Report as abusive