The story of a man hunted for the beliefs he holds and truth he speaks.
The courageous Dutch politician Geert Wilders released his book Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me in May 2012. The foreword to this title was written by the eloquent Canadian-born political commentator and cultural critic Mark Steyn, who has a special talent for writing about serious topics in a humorous way. He has published several books and written essays for publications ranging from the Jerusalem Post and the Chicago Sun-Times to the National Review, The Australian and Canada’s National Post.
Steyn is honest enough to admit that when he was first asked to contribute to Wilders’ new book, his initial reaction was to say no. The main reason for this is the potentially high cost of being associated with a man who lives with constant death threats.
Yet, after taking a stroll in the woods, Mark Steyn felt ashamed at the ease with which he was caving in to the enemies of freedom, and decided to accept the offer after all. He recalled how the Canadian Islamic Congress boasted that their attempts by legal aggression to silence Steyn’s critical writings about Islam had cost his magazine substantial sums, and thereby attained their “strategic objective” of increasing the cost of publishing anti-Islamic material.
In the case of Geert Wilders, that cost is not merely limited to money. Despite being an elected Member of Parliament in what used to be one of Europe’s freest and most tolerant countries, he is regularly vilified by Western mass media. When trying to enter Britain, a nation that once was a champion of liberty, he was detained by plainclothes border guards on arrival at London’s Heathrow airport in February 2009 and deported from the country.
The democratic Dutch MP had been invited to the House of Lords, where Baroness Cox and Lord Pearson wanted to show his 17-minute Islam-critical film Fitna. The Home Office refused him entry on the grounds he “would threaten community security and therefore public security,” not because he threatened to use violence, but because Muslims might use it.
Lord Ahmed from the Labour Party, Britain’s first Muslim member of the House of Lords, the upper house of the British Parliament, pledged to bring a 10,000 strong force of angry Muslims to lay siege to Parliament. A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain claimed that Wilders has been an open and relentless preacher of “hate.” At the same time, London has become a notorious intentional center for Islamic militants, who spew hate on a daily basis.
Geert Wilders accused the Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown of being “the biggest bunch of cowards in Europe.” He was later allowed entry to the UK, however. He was also put on trial in the Netherlands accused of criminally insulting religious and ethnic groups. Wilders was eventually found not guilty in 2011, but the entire process took several years.
As Mark Steyn puts it, “He is under round-the-clock guard because of explicit threats to murder him by Muslim extremists. Yet he’s the one who gets put on trial for incitement. In twenty-first century Amsterdam, you’re free to smoke marijuana and pick out a half-naked sex partner from the front window of her shop. But you can be put on trial for holding the wrong opinion about a bloke who died in the seventh century. And, although Mr. Wilders was eventually acquitted by his kangaroo court, the determination to place him beyond the pale is unceasing: ‘The far-right anti-immigration party of Geert Wilders’ (the Financial Times)… ‘Far-right leader Geert Wilders’ (the Guardian)… ‘Extreme right anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders’ (AFP) is ‘at the fringes of mainstream politics’ (Time). Mr. Wilders is so far out on the far-right extreme fringe that his party is the third biggest in parliament.”
Maybe those who are out on the fringe are the ones who think that disliking Islam is “far-right.”
Yet it’s not just Wilders himself who is being attacked in this fashion. Those who dare to meet him or support some of his views could find themselves attacked by the mass media and the political elites in a comparable manner. Cory Bernardi, born and raised in Adelaide and currently representing the state of South Australia for the Liberal Party in the Australian Senate, in 2011 came under fire not only from members of other parties but also from his own — allegedly conservative — party when he wanted to facilitate a trip to Australia by Wilders.
The Sydney Morning Herald simply labeled Geert Wilders “an Islamaphobic Dutch politician.” The Melbourne-based The Age claimed that Wilders’ “objectionable” and “poisonous anti-Islam views” are “abhorrent and plainly wrong” and that his ideas are self-evidently “repugnant.” The newspaper continued to suggest that if Senator Bernardi did not dissociate himself from Mr. Wilders’ views, then perhaps his own party should demote him.
Wayne Swan, Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister of Australia under PM Julia Gillard, said Bernardi has right-wing extremist views. Other senior Labor Party members indicated that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott should discipline the senator and remove him from his portfolio responsibilities. Labor frontbencher Peter Garrett declined to say whether he believed Abbott should have Bernardi expelled from the Liberal Party, or copy the way former Prime Minister John Howard had Pauline Hanson disendorsed as a candidate ahead of the 1996 national election due to her vocal opposition to non-European mass immigration. Australian Greens senator Richard Di Natale also condemned Bernardi’s associations with Wilders. “Multiculturalism is one of this country’s great successes and it must be defended,” he stated.
Wilders commented in an essay published in The Washington Times on May 4 2012 that “As I write these lines, there are police bodyguards at the door. No visitor can enter my office without passing through several security checks and metal detectors. I have been marked for death. I am forced to live in a heavily protected safe house. Every morning, I am driven to my office in the Dutch Parliament building in an armored car with sirens and flashing blue lights. When I go out, I am surrounded, as I have been for the past seven years, by plainclothes police officers. When I speak in public, I wear a bulletproof jacket. Who am I? I am neither a king nor a president, nor even a government minister; I am just a simple politician in the Netherlands. But because I speak out against expanding Islamic influence in Europe, I have been marked for death. If you criticize Islam, this is the risk you run. That is why so few politicians dare to tell the truth about the greatest threat to our liberties today.”
Wilders received his first death threats in 2003 after asking the government to investigate a radical mosque. In November 2004, after a Muslim fanatic murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh, policemen armed with machine guns pushed him into an armored car and drove him off into the night. That was the last time he was in his own house. Since then, he has lived “in an army barracks, a prison cell and now a government-owned safe house.” The security detail has become part of his daily routine, but it must still be hard getting used to being a virtual prisoner in your own country and unable to visit a restaurant or cafe in a normal manner.
Hostile journalists often denounce Wilders and his Party for Freedom as “populists,” but they are popular for a reason: They state uncomfortable truths that the ruling elites want to sweep under the carpet. The natives are rapidly being turned into a harassed minority in Amsterdam, Rotterdam or The Hague, a pattern that can now be seen in far too many European cities.
Fifty-seven percent of the Dutch people say that mass immigration was the biggest single mistake in Dutch history. Yet what is arguably the greatest change their country and their continent have experienced in historical times is beyond honest discussion in the mainstream media.
Wilders goes on to note that “I have read the Koran and studied the life of Muhammad. It made me realize that Islam is primarily a totalitarian ideology rather than a religion. I feel sorry for the Arab, Persian, Indian and Indonesian peoples who have to live under the yoke of Islam. It is a belief system that marks apostates for death, forces critics into hiding and denies our Western tradition of individual freedom. Without freedom, there can be no prosperity and no pursuit of happiness. More Islam means less life, less liberty and less happiness.”
Geert Wilders has sacrificed his personal freedom of movement and the prospects of a normal life in order to warn his country, his continent and his civilization against serious threats to their freedom. We should honor that sacrifice by listening carefully to what he has to say.
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