Will Geert Wilders Be Denied a Visa to Australia?

A violence-promoting Islamic leader and a Dutch politician have very different experiences gaining entrance into the country.

It's been hard to keep track of all the rioting that's taken place around the world lately, purportedly in response to the film The Innocence of Muslims, so it would be thoroughly understandable if you missed the news about the protests in Sydney on Saturday, September 15, at which participants carried signs reading “Behead all those who insult the prophet” and “Shariah will dominate the world.”  Several police officers were injured and a number of arrests were made.

The rioting occurred exactly one day after Taji Mustafa, spokesman for the British branch of the Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir, delivered a passionate, and at times fierce, sermon in Sydney about The Innocence of Muslims.  Hizb ut-Tahrir, as you may know, is an international Islamist organization that is the largest group of its kind in Britain.  It supports the goal of a caliphate and, by virtue of its continuing legality in that country (which has been frequently but unsuccessfully challenged), serves as a living symbol of the fecklessness of the British government in the face of jihadism.  Mustafa is one of the most high-profile Islamist agitators on the scept'red isle, where, in 2006, participating in a TV debate about freedom of speech after the Pope's Regensburg speech, he presented himself as reasonable and mild-mannered, insisting in a firm but relatively temperate tone that “in no civilized society should people accept the right to insult others” and that he “should not have to live in a society where my belief is insulted.”

On September 17, with the Sydney rioting still fresh in everyone's memory, he gave an interview on Australian TV in which, again presenting himself as more or less reasonable and mild-mannered, he said that Australia, owing to its involvement in Afghanistan, “cannot preach to any Islamic government in the world about having a nonviolent foreign policy.”  When confronted with a Hizb ut-Tahrir press release calling on “Muslim armies” to “teach the Jews a lesson after which they will need no further lessons,” he denied any connection to it, whereupon the interviewer showed him a printout that included his organization's web address. Liberal Party politician Scott Morrison noted in The Australian on September 21 that Hizb ut-Tahrir has in fact “condoned the killing of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan and called for the military destruction of Israel.”

What, then, did Mustafa say to that Sydney congregation on the eve of the day when everyone went nuts?  The answer is on YouTube.  As it happens, his tone was, for the most part, not at all reasonable and mild-mannered.  On the contrary, he delivered much of the sermon in a loud, angry, threatening voice.  His subject: how to respond to this film that insults Muhammed so viciously?  Muslims, he made clear, are obliged not to let such an affront go unanswered.  After all, “we have emotions. We are human beings....We hold some things very dear to us.  We love our mothers.  We love our wives.  And if somebody insulted them we would be upset.  You'd want to do something.  And I know many people frankly would want to smash in the face of someone who insulted their wife....A true Muslim loves the Prophet more than he loves himself.”

Mustafa observed that many non-Muslims call Muslims “touchy” because of their reactions to such provocations as The Innocence of Muslims.  Why, he quoted those non-Muslims as asking, can't you Muslims lighten up and take an insult just like everybody else?  What's more, he added, non-Muslims invariably invoke the concept of free speech.  Mustafa asked his audience: “What is our response?  What is our take as Muslims on this?”  His answer, delivered in a menacing, increasingly loud voice: “Insulting the Prophet...is a red line.  You cannot do it and not expect a reaction.  You can't smack a guy in the face and not expect a reaction....You can't insult and spit on his wife and not expect a reaction!”

By this point, Mustafa was screaming in rage.  “It is natural for Muslims to react, and the whole world should understand that!”  If we react, he insisted, it is because “somebody provoked us!”  He expressed outrage at the fact “that in Western societies it is permissible, it is allowable, to insult over a billion people....There is something wrong with the values in the West!”  As for freedom of speech, “this Western idea...is crazy!”  What of the public condemnations of the anti-Islam film by officials like Hillary Clinton?  He rejected them entirely, pointing out that even though Hillary denounced the film, she refused to ban it, citing freedom of speech.  “This means these governments support it!” thundered Mustafa, who reminded his audience that “freedom of speech means freedom to insult!”

Mustafa had no problem getting into Australia.

On the contrary, the country's Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, reportedly granted him a visa “immediately,” explaining, as Phillip Hudson wrote in the Herald Sun on September 18, that Mustafa “was not on any alert list, not a member of a proscribed terrorist organisation and had no criminal convictions.”

By contrast, at this writing the Australian government is still sitting on a more than three-week-old visa application by another major European figure – namely, Geert Wilders, member of the Dutch parliament, head of the Dutch Freedom Party, and author of the international bestseller Marked for Death.

Wilders, who has been invited by a small Australian group, the Q Society, to give talks in Sydney and Melbourne about the threat of Islam, applied for a visa over three weeks ago but – again, as of this writing – has not yet received it, even though members of his staff and security detail were issued their visas almost at once.  In reply to queries, Bowen has said that “it is not unusual for applications to take several weeks for a decision in complex cases.”

What makes Wilders a “complex case”?  According to Hayden Cooper of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Wilders “is on the Movement Alert List, a database of people of concern to Australia.... his application is held up at the Department of Immigration headquarters in Canberra while more thorough checks are done.”  And why is Wilders included on such a list?  Cooper attributes it to “his previous brushes with authorities abroad,” namely the 2009 episode in which he was “refused entry to the UK but later appealed and won” and his 2010-11 trials in his own country on charges (of which he was ultimately acquitted) of criminal insult and inciting hatred and discrimination.

Writing on September 19, Cooper said that what he called the “final tricky call” on Wilders's visa application might end up being made personally by Bowen, who for his part would only say that “no decision ha[d] been made” in Wilders's case and that “he ha[d] received no advice yet from the department.”  It was interesting to observed that Bowen, who went out of his way to defend the granting of a visa to Mustafa, seemed to take a hands-off approach to a visa application by a member of the parliament of a fellow Western democracy.

Scott Morrison, who, in a view consistent with standard Western-establishment thinking, considers both Mustafa and Wilders unsavory extremists, nonetheless found it disturbing that Australia's ruling Labor Party “seems to be more concerned about some extreme views than others.”  Indeed, there's no question but that some highly placed members of the Australian government despise Wilders.  The Minister of Multicultural Affairs, Kate Lundy, has described him as “an extreme-right politician promulgating views that are out of step with mainstream Australia.”  And Senator Richard Di Natale has said that Wilders's “hateful and divisive views are not welcome in Australia” (while adding that “to deny him a visa risks giving him more oxygen and publicity”).

Plainly, there's some upside-down thinking going on down there in the southern hemisphere.  They think – or some of them do, anyway – that if they let in the likes of Mustafa it'll somehow appease the would-be rioters, and if they let in Wilders it'll set them off.  They don't seem to understand that people obsessed with power only understand power – and that jihadists, sensitive to the slightest whiff of weakness, respond to appeasement only by pushing harder for yet more appeasement.

In any event, all this looking-glass thinking only goes to show just how desperately Australia needs to hear Wilders's message – and to take a cue from his unshrinking, unflinching approach to the sheer evil represented by Mustafa and his ilk.

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