The Netherlands is a nation long known for its emphasis on tolerance and liberal thinking. However those qualities are being put to the test at the moment with the trial of politician Geert Wilders. The outspoken MP has been at the forefront of warning against the Islamisation of Holland and Europe. For his troubles he is now on trial.
Wilders has been charged with “incitement and discrimination against Muslims” in his numerous public speeches and writings. Hate speech crimes are alive and well in Holland, and if convicted he can face up to two years in prison.
Just prior to the trial (which began on January 20) Wilders said, “I am being prosecuted for my political convictions. The freedom of speech is on the verge of collapsing. If a politician is not allowed to criticise an ideology anymore this means that we are lost, and it will lead to the end of our freedom. However, I remain combative: I am convinced that I will be acquitted.”
These so-called “hate speech” charges are a real test of Dutch tolerance, Western values, and freedom of speech. They are also in effect a test on whether those concerned about the spread of Islam have the freedom to express their opinions in public. How the trial ends will be of extreme importance for all concerned about such issues.
Indeed, so crucial is this trial, that a recent symposium has been held with a number of experts weighing in on the issue. Their comments are worth citing here. I begin with Egyptian writer, Bat Ye’or, who is an expert on dhimmitude – how Islam treat non-Muslims as second-class citizens. She begins:
“Muslims might feel insulted by Geert Wilders’ opinions on Islam. However, Geert Wilders and non-Muslims feel insulted – threatened — by the hostile and negative opinions on them enshrined in Muslim holy books, laws and customs. These are not hidden or dismissed as outdated, but continuously and proudly published, taught and publicly expounded throughout the world — without being opposed by Muslim leaders.”
She concludes, “Western governments must decide whether they judge by Western or shariah laws. Wilders has defied shariah law, and, as a consequence, his life is in constant danger. It seems to me that the threats against him are the real crimes the Netherlands should address. If Wilders is convicted, Europeans will see in such a verdict the suppression of their own freedom to defend themselves and their submission to dhimmitude….
“The Free World is watching and listening. Buying Europe’s security by appeasement, political correctness, self-censorship and the Palestinisation of society, will lead only to civil wars. Humans have short memories. But history will record that Wilder’s trial will either condemn freedom of speech, or support this most precious right of Mankind against intellectual terror and cultural totalitarianism.”
Daniel Pipes said, in part, “Who is the most important European alive today? I nominate the Dutch politician Geert Wilders. I do so because he is best placed to deal with the Islamic challenge facing the continent. He has the potential to emerge as a world-historical figure.
“The Islamic challenge consists of two components: on the one hand, an indigenous population’s withering Christian faith, inadequate birthrate, and cultural diffidence, and on the other an influx of devout, prolific, and culturally assertive Muslim immigrants. This fast-moving situation raises questions about Europe retaining its historic civilization; will it become a majority-Muslim continent living under Islamic law (the Shari‘a)?”
He finishes this way: “Although I disagree with Wilders about Islam (I respect the religion but fight Islamists with all I have), we stand shoulder-to-shoulder against this lawsuit. I reject the criminalization of political differences and the attempted thwarting of a political movement through the courts. Accordingly, the Middle East Forum’s Legal Project has worked on Wilders’ behalf, raising substantial funds for his defense and helping in other ways. Wilders today represents all those Westerners who cherish their civilization. The outcome of his trial has implications for us all.”
Canadian David Harris said this: “Wilders sees the tripartite menace of Islamism. He sounds the alarm on the threat and actuality of growing terrorist violence. He identifies Islamic radicalism as in many cases a preparatory phase for this violence and associated subversion. And he sees that a ‘soft jihad’ is also afoot, a nonviolent jihad of demands to privilege Muslims within society, demands that are contrary to every constitutional principle of equality known to Western liberal values – and the Dutch constitution. In short, Wilders recognizes the range of the threat, from the violent rampages of outright terrorists to the charm offensives of business-suited Islamists.
“There are serious worries that, underlying the Dutch prosecution, is a wish to silence someone who is embarrassing governing politicians wishing to ingratiate themselves with the increasing numbers of fundamentalist Dutch Muslims and mosques. There is also suspicion that anything less than highly-visible state-persecution of Wilders could lead to Islamist assaults on Dutch interests, at home and abroad, similar to those that cost the Danes so heavily during the Mohammed Cartoon Affair. Genuine human rights activists worldwide, are mustering to Wilders’ side, in the growing conviction that Dutch law is being put to uses contrary to the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and more in line with sharia law standards and sensibilities.”
Diana West put it this way: “I cannot overestimate the epochal importance of the court proceeding taking place next Wednesday the 20th in the Netherlands where Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders goes on trial for an array of charges that arises from his courageous and increasingly successful efforts to lead his countrymen against the Islamization of their country and the wider West. A man of political action, Wilders has been targeted not just for his political speech, but for his effectiveness as an advocate of liberty and pluralism, neither of which can survive in societies that are governed by, or in thrall to sharia (Islamic law).
“It is not just the repressions and depredations of Islam that Wilders is outspoken about — a subject well-ploughed by certain academics and journalists alike. He is equally if almost singularly outspoken about the political remedies necessary to halt the extension of Islam’s law. Such remedies include stopping Islamic immigration and deporting agents of jihad. These are simple measures any democratic state that wished to repeal Islamization would take. These are simple measures that the Netherlands would take if Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom, which now rivals the country’s ruling party, ever came to power.
“It is a political trial, then, in the worst sense, that we are about to witness. And it is about more than the future of freedom of speech. The trial of Geert Wilders is about the future of freedom.”
Mark Steyn had this to say about the trial: “Behind this disgraceful prosecution lies a simple truth that the Dutch establishment cannot tell its people – that, unless something changes, their nation will become more and more Muslim and, very soon, slip past the point of no return. They understand the tensions between their ever more assertive Muslim population and an aging ‘native’ working class, but they believe that the problem can be managed by placing “the European conversation” – the non-subterranean conversation – within ever narrower constraints, and criminalizing any opinions outside those bounds. Some of them are blinkered and stupid enough to think that they need to do this in order to save the tolerant multicultural society from ‘right wingers’ like Wilders. In fact, all they are doing is hastening the rate at which their society will be delivered into the hands of the avowedly intolerant and unicultural. In its death throes, Eutopia has decided to smash the lights of liberty.”
There are plenty of other valuable comments found in this helpful symposium, and readers are invited to peruse it all. The outcome of this trial will be extremely significant indeed. Will Islam and its demands for submission prevail, or will common sense, freedom of speech, and Western democratic values prevail? We shall soon find out.