Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders, set to become a shadow partner of the next coalition government, goes on trial in Amsterdam on Monday for inciting hatred against Muslims. Wilders’ Freedom Party together with other parties forming the next coalition have agreed to ban the burqa. Yet this is surely the least controversial move since it has already been implemented by other European states, such as France. The peroxide blonde Wilders sees his own trial as an attack on freedom of speech in the Netherlands. His lawyer reported that Wilders thinks that “in the Netherlands, one must be able to say whatever one wants, barring incitement to violence.”
The event is bringing more media attention and support to Wilders, while his party becomes not only the third party within the Dutch parliament but the one that can decide if there will be a government or not. He has found the right balance of rhetoric between xenophobia and phobia of the Netherlands’ Muslim population (6%), which lives quite harmoniously when compared to other parts of Europe, to win the hearts and minds of the most disaffected and frustrated sectors of Dutch society.
Does Mr Geert Wilders have the right to attack the Qur’an and Islam, which he has declared to be the “the sick ideology of Allah and Mohammed“, to express his ideas? Surely he should have the right to do so and to do it in all safety. Yet his position of espousing full freedom of speech is affected by one single issue: he does not believe in freedom.
Mr Geert Wilders wants to claim freedom of speech and freedom in general only for a section of the Dutch society and wishes to repress the freedom of about 6% of the Dutch population and even ban expressions of personal religious ‘identities’.
Indeed, the ‘war against Islam’ engaged in by Geert Wilders is in reality a war against freedom and freedom of expression, the same which has allowed him to decide the destiny of the Dutch government. The freedom he speaks about is not the one that John Locke advocated, but rather the freedom to discriminate and oppress. This is not a new freedom in Europe, as history reminds us. But it is a freedom that, in the long run, often ended in claiming innocent lives in the name of ‘protecting’ the freedom of the nation and its people.
Interestingly, Geert Wilders has also asked that the Qur’an be banned similarly to Mein Kampf in the Netherlands. With one difference, however: he wants to ban the possession of the Qur’an and not just the publication. This shows that Geert Wilders is, as far as Islam is concerned, an idiot (used here in its ancient greek terminology: ‘layman’, not knowledgeable in a topic). In fact, other than he is in reality planning a final solution for Muslims in Western countries, a ban of printing or possessing a copy of the Qur’an is ridiculous since Muslims memorize it as part of their religious practice, and a number can perfectly recite it (yet less often understand it) from cover to cover.
Geert Wilders wants to ban ‘radical’ Muslim preachers (notice here that radical Jewish or Christians or other religious (or secular) extremist preachers will be allowed) and their right to enjoy that ‘freedom of speech’ he wants the court to acknowledge for him. Yet the curtailment of freedom is not limited to speech, but rather extends to the expression of identity. In Wilders’ hopes, the government will be able to tell Muslim women what not to wear, despite that no substantial reason other than intolerance can explain legislating against a dress style.
Perhaps Geert Wilders dreams of a time when he may be able to decide through legislation which new freedoms or restrictions Muslims may have. I can suggest some based on Wilders’ current demonstration of knowledge about Islam: Muslims will have to shave everyday; Muslim women will have to show their hair, wear mini-skirts and shake the hands of each Dutch male they encounter in the street; Muslim children may have a dog as a pet (better if it is a Pitbull so the Muslim kid may end mauled); the family may have to eat pork with a glass of wine at each dinner; and Muslim men, although not allowed more than one wife, may have as many lovers they want, and instead of spending Friday at the mosque, they will spend it in the Red Light Districts of the country.
It will come as a surprise to Geert Wilders that in his country there are a good number of Muslims who do engage in some of the above activities (and have pitbulls as pets) since, despite what he may believe, Muslims are not Islam or shari’a, they are human beings, with their own individualities. Beyond the joke, however, there is a very dramatic reality. If Geert Wilders is allowed to gain power within the Dutch parliament, Muslims may lose an important freedom (which is also vital for the survival of liberal democratic Europe): the freedom of being Muslim.
Indeed, Geert Wilders has only one mission: to reduce freedom as much as he can for those who came to Europe, or grew up there as a second generation, seeking those rights which Europe used to grant and many Europeans struggled for during its history: the freedom to practice one’s own religion and express freely and without fear one’s religious identities.
Certainly, for a society such as the Netherlands which, in the name of freedom of expression and speech, allows an association that advocates the acceptance of paedophilia and the legalization of sexual relationships between adults and children to exist together with a party that tried to bring to parliament such an ‘ideology’, the ban of niqabs and burqas, as well as Geert Wilders‘ request to ban the Qur’an (hence Islam) is not only ridiculous but hypocritical. Yet I suppose that Geert Wilders is entitled to his hypocrisies – but please, do not make such freedom of hypocrisy the flag of an entire nation.