The United Kingdom turns its back on freedom of speech and freedom of travel

Geert Wilders is the chairman of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. He is also a member of that country’s parliament. Wilders is a leading voice, if not the leading voice, in the fight against the Islamization of Europe.

This week, the government of the United Kingdom banned Wilders from entering England. Today, Wilders flew into London’s Heathrow Airport anyway. His purpose was to attend a screening of his film Fitna, which attempts to show the relationship between the Quran and terrorism/jihad, and argues that the problems of Islam are not at its fringes but at its core. However, British authorities detained Wilders at the airport and, as I understand it, sent him back to the Netherlands.

The British government told Wilders:

The Secretary of State is of the view that your presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society. The Secretary of State is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK.

With this pronouncement, England has, in the words of the International Free Press Society,

broken faith with its own glorious tradition of enshrining freedom of speech, and embarked on an authoritarian course of setting the boundaries of political debate. With this action, the government of the UK has also broken faith with its neighbors in the European Union by taking the unprecedented measure of barring entry to a democratically elected representative, and, in Mr. Wilders’ case, party leader from another EU member state. In so doing, the government of the UK has additionally given lie to the organizing EU principle of “open borders” among member states, demonstrating a capricious will to close its borders against ideas of which it disapproves.

The British government has also given militant British Muslims the right to set the boundaries of debate about their religion. This, of course, is one of the main evils about which Wilders came to warn the English.

What, precisely, are the views the British government seeks to exclude? Here, from a speech Wilders delivered in New York, is his core position on Islam:

The first thing you need to know about Islam is the importance of the book of the Quran. The Quran is Allah’s personal word, revealed by an angel to Mohammed, the prophet. This is where the trouble starts. Every word in the Quran is Allah’s word and therefore not open to discussion or interpretation. It is valid for every Muslim and for all times. Therefore, there is no such a thing as moderate Islam. Sure, there are a lot of moderate Muslims. But a moderate Islam is non-existent.

The Quran calls for hatred, violence, submission, murder, and terrorism. The Quran calls for Muslims to kill non-Muslims, to terrorize non-Muslims and to fulfill their duty to wage war: violent jihad. Jihad is a duty for every Muslim; Islam is to rule the world — by the sword. The Quran is clearly anti-Semitic, describing Jews as monkeys and pigs.

Strong, controversial stuff, but surely not beyond the realm of discussion in a free society. Indeed, Britain appears to have had no qualms about admitting the raving anti-Semite Jöran Jermas, who has said, among similar things, that Jews asked God to “kill, destroy, humiliate, exterminate, defame, starve, impale Christians, to usher in Divine Vengeance and to cover God’s mantle with blood of goyim.” Lord Ahmed, a member of the House of Lords and an advocate of banning Wilders, hosted a book party for “Jermas.”

Much has been made of Wilders’ view that the Quran should be banned in the Netherlands. But, as Diana West has explained, Wilders’ position must be understood in the context of existing hate speech laws in that country, which ban Mein Kampf for its incitement to violence and hatred of Jews. Since the Quran contains incitements to violence and hatred of non-Muslims, Wilders contends that, under the same hate speech laws, the Quran should be banned as well. This seems like a reasonable interpreration of an unreasonable law.

In any event, a truly free society would not bar someone from its soil merely for arguing that a religious book should be banned. As Lord Pierson observed this week, it’s most unlikely that Wilders would have been barred from Britain if he had said “Ban the Bible.”

Wilders has warned that “these are not times in which to take lesson from appeasement, capitulation, giving away, giving up or giving in.” Yet Britain is engaging in appeasement and, in doing so, is gving away important freedoms.

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