A politician on trial for his opinions


By Jeremy Havardi
October 4, 2010
Share

Geert Wilders may not be everyone's cup of tea when it comes to criticising Islam. The maverick Dutch politician has compared the Koran to Mein Kampf and described Islam as 'fascistic,' claims that will strike even the most ardent opponents of Islamism as overblown. His argument in Fitna, where he accuses Islam of stoking terrorist violence, lacks the nuance and sophistication that is found in more considered critiques.

Though he is a staunch defender of Western freedoms, Wilders' interpretation of Islam in such black and white terms is highly questionable. But surely that is the point: his views should be questioned, debated, scrutinised and discussed in the court of public opinion, not in a court of law. No one, certainly not a leading politician, should be criminalised for merely having the 'wrong' opinion (if that is the case).

Yet in the twenty first century, Western freedoms are being subverted to the secular religion of political correctness. Offend a minority (particularly one that resorts to violence) and you are in real trouble, as Wilders has found out. Prosecutors in Holland have brought 5 charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against the Dutch MP. His comments, according to the Dutch Court of appeal, rendered a 'criminal prosecution obvious for the insult of Islamic worshippers.' Notice the word 'insult.' In PC Europe, insulting Muslims by labelling the Koran 'fascistic' is tantamount to a hate crime. No wonder that Wilders has stated: 'The freedom of expression of at least 1.5 million people is standing trial together with me'.

Had Wilders called for Muslims to be killed, it would have been quite right for him to be put on trial and convicted of inciting hatred. If he had called for mosques to be looted or burnt, the same sanction would have applied. It is people and property that need protection under the law, not ideas. Islam does not deserve special treatment, nor can Muslims claim the right not to be offended. Has Richard Dawkins found himself in the dock for launching his scathing attacks on Christianity? Certainly not, and quite right too. But then Dawkins has attacked a majority faith, and one which is castigated by the high priests of multiculturalism.

So in one of the most tolerant nations on earth, renowned throughout the world for its love of freedom and democracy, a leading politician is standing trial for his opinions, while Western politicians remain silent. How poor Voltaire would be spinning in his grave.

COMMENTS

ibrows

Mon, 10/04/2010 - 21:05

Rate this:

-4 points

So if he would have used the term 'Judaism' instead of 'Islam; would you have adopted a similar position of allowing Wilders 'freedom of speech'? and claimed that 'The freedom of expression of at least 1.5 million people is standing trial together with me'.

Clearly, not he would have been attacked as anti-semitic, highly offensive and racist. These comments related to Islam likewise remain deeply offensive and racist. If Wilders had made these references to Judaism he would have been attacked, so why is it acceptable when its directed at Islam?

You claim, Wilders is 'a staunch defender of Western freedoms', though you ignore the fact that these freedoms are selective, he does not respect the freedom of religious choice, such as practicing Islam, nor does he uphold freedom to wear a Hijab or Burka.

Its the sort of freedoms a dictator may allow; a few he endorses and none he opposes, is this what 'western freedoms' have been reduced to?

Islam does not intrinsically endorse violence and terrorism, any more than Judaism, Christianity or Hinduism. You can decontextualise the texts of any of these faiths and find references to violence, but this does not overide the bigger picture of these faiths that stipulate treating humanity with respect, tolerating difference, and in the case of Islam killing people with fire is specifically prohibited, likewise there is a hadith which states, 'someone who takes a life, it is as if he killed the whole of mankind, someone who saves a life, it is as if he saved the whole of mankind'.


Yvetta

Mon, 10/04/2010 - 21:28

Rate this:

3 points

Not a big fan of Voltaire, Jeremy, because he despised Jews and Judaism. I think a better analogy might be with Napoleaon - who had to be satisfied that Jews accepted modernity before granting them equal rights with other Frenchmen. Methinks Napoleon, although a male chauvinist, would not think niqabs and burkas commensurate with modernity.
ibrows, as usual you talk bolleaux - your meat and drink being to insult Jews, Judaism and Israel anyway you can, and upon any excuse.


Yvetta

Mon, 10/04/2010 - 21:30

Rate this:

2 points

I quite forgot - Jews had to satisfy Napoleon that they did not practice polygamy. Another pertinent point.


telegramsam

Mon, 10/04/2010 - 21:34

Rate this:

-3 points

Wilders also said that Germany must forget its past and its culpability for the Holocaust. With friends like these...


amber

Mon, 10/04/2010 - 23:19

Rate this:

3 points

I like the way ibrows presents himeslf as an expert on Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism. Anyone who truly believes themselves expert enough in all these fields to make generalisations about them all is seriously devoid of any serious thought - or knowledge.


Isca Stieglitz

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 09:30

Rate this:

3 points

Interestingly, re:'ibrows' first comment. Israel and jews are maligned like this every day, the proliferation of 'hatred' is almost casual.

Some of the criticism maybe valid, but I don't see anyone on trial for similar and worse comments with regard to Israel and jews. A lot of these people hold high offices and are often so-called politicians and are not on trial for holding these opinions, but are indeed openly criticised for them.

No one says that Geert Wilders' comments are acceptable, but he should not be treated any differently from other people just because his target is Islam and not judaism or any other religion for that matter.

There is also the question of proof and evidence. Geert Wilders believes he has both and I will attempt to wade through it in my own time, as I do the Israel-Palestine info.

'Fitna' was highly disturbing and I did feel violated by it in some way. However, the narrator said/ wrote very little. This was pieced together from sources widely available on Islamic propoganda websites. Be careful, if you choose to watch, there is a beheading.

Could something equivalent be pieced together about christianity, buddhism, judaism, sikhism, taoism, or countries like the Sudan, Israel, Libya, Belgium, Holland? Maybe, maybe not.


happygoldfish

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:02

Rate this:

2 points

the dutch court of appeal said that "hate is created" by "biased, strongly generalizing phrasings with a radical meaning, ongoing reiteration and an increasing intensity", and that the general rule against prosecution for "insult to a group" has an exception "when fundamental boundaries are exceeded"

there appear to be two categories of charge … insult of a group, and incitement to hatred

insult of a group

Jeremy Havardi: In PC Europe, insulting Muslims by labelling the Koran 'fascistic' is tantamount to a hate crime. No wonder that Wilders has stated: 'The freedom of expression of at least 1.5 million people is standing trial together with me'.

'fascistic' is not the criterion the court of appeal used, see "the website of the Dutch Judiciary and the Supreme Court of the Netherlands" at http://www.rechtspraak.nl/Actualiteiten/Amsterdam+Court+of+Appeal+orders... (overruling the original decision not to prosecute … ok, not a very good translation) …

As regards the insult of a group the Court of Appeal makes a distinction. In general … the Court of Appeal prefers the political, public and other legal counter forces rather than the criminal law, as a result of which an active participation to the public debate, by moslims as well, is promoted.

However, the Court of Appeal makes an exception as regards insulting statements in which a connection with Nazism is made (for instance by comparing the Koran with "Mein Kampf"). The Court of Appeal considers this insulting to such a degree for a community of Islamic worshippers that a general interest is deemed to be present in order to prosecute Wilders because of this.

According to the Court of Appeal most statements are insulting as well since these statements substantially harm the religious esteem of the Islamic worshippers. According to the Court of Appeal Wilders has indeed insulted the Islamic worshippers themselves by affecting the symbols of the Islamic belief as well.

incitement to hatred

their … method of presentation is characterized by biased, strongly generalizing phrasings with a radical meaning, ongoing reiteration and an increasing intensity, as a result of which hate is created.

freedom of expression

the court also considered that freedom of expression under the european convention on human rights does not apply to "statements which create hate and grief made by politicians, taken their special responsibility into consideration" …

… according to the norms of the European Convention on Human Rights … the initiation of a criminal prosecution and a possible conviction later on as well, provided that it is proportionate, does not necessarily conflict with the freedom of expression of Wilders, since statements which create hate and grief made by politicians, taken their special responsibility into consideration, are not permitted according to European standards either.

"public interest"

the instigation of hatred in a democratic society constitutes such a serious matter that a general interest is at stake in order to draw a clear boundary in the public debate.

the court of appeal concluded …

… the way in which the public debate about controversial issues is held, such as the immigration and integration debate, does not fall within the ambit of the law in principle indeed, but the situation changes when fundamental boundaries are exceeded. Then criminal law does appear as well.

of course, wilders has not been tried yet, so perhaps it is better to wait for the trial, to see the way the court applies the law to the full facts, before commenting further?


telegramsam

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:22

Rate this:

-1 points

Thank you again to M'learned Goldfish.


Isca Stieglitz

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 16:55

Rate this:

2 points

I agree HGold. My only concern is that whatever law exists for interpretation in any country, it has to metered out even handedly across all fascistic, extremist or anti-religion behaviours and I don't believe it is.

I will stick my neck out and say that I believe right wing Islam gets too much slack in the amount and tone of demonstrations, websites, terrorist activity etc. that go unchecked and unprosecuted. It's as if we are immune or have come to 'expect' it from 'them' - Not my personal use of words.

In a strange twist I see this as a ghost of colonialism, a snobbery which says 'we can't posssibly judge "these" people by the same standards'; I find that racist in itself.

I would further say that I have heard worse than Geert Wilders from many sources and on a daily basis this also goes unchecked. For me it always comes down to motive; is someone like Geert Wilders genuinely scared of a 'perceived' threat to fundamental principles of western civilisation or does he have a 'plan' to start a real war with Islam, no matter what? I don't know.

I'll await the outcome of the trial; I'm sure there must be more to it, as there always is.


stephenb

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 20:24

Rate this:

-2 points

the big laugh here is in the 40's wilders would have been a nazi collaborater , in fact the archetypical nazi collaborater.

how things change jews were the scapegoats in europe for centuries then in, the uk at least, following the big immigration of blacks in the 50's particularly from the carribean, jews got forgotten about and the blacks became the demon "others "

Now the blacks are sorta kinda off the hook cuz its now muslims are the demon others. and all the previous demon others , now being part of the in crowd, jump on the bandwagon.

I hate to burst the jewish bubble but....in the dog and duck when the regulars have had a few drinks and all the racist chit starts to come out jews dont even rate a mention


amber

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 22:54

Rate this:

3 points

stephenb, with his crystal ball, declares: wilders would have been a nazis collaborator.

No stephenb, YOU would have been (indeed, are) an enthusiastic Jew hating Nazi, with your frequent antisemitic comments.


amber

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 22:56

Rate this:

2 points

"The Jewish bubble"? Really stephenb?

This individual is a racist piece of garbage. Get rid of him. Anyone at the JC listening? Hello?


Jonathan Hoffman

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 23:35

Rate this:

3 points

stephenb is racist faeces and should be banned


telegramsam

Thu, 10/07/2010 - 07:38

Rate this:

0 points

Stephenb, I am sure that in the dog and duck you attend there's a helluva lot of racist banter


stephenb

Thu, 10/07/2010 - 15:33

Rate this:

-1 points

dogs and ducks will always be dogs and ducks


telegramsam

Thu, 10/07/2010 - 15:38

Rate this:

0 points

In your rub-a-dub, perhaps Stephenb. Not in those I frequent.


stephenb

Thu, 10/07/2010 - 20:21

Rate this:

-1 points

sam not everyone is a suave sophisticate like you i am just a humble irish bog man


Yvetta

Thu, 10/07/2010 - 22:02

Rate this:

1 point

Amber, perhaps a few "flags as offensive" would wake the deaf from their stupor.


Yoni1

Sat, 02/05/2011 - 12:32

Rate this:

2 points

"claims that will strike even the most ardent opponents of Islamism as overblown"

Nonsense. Obviously, you don't know much about Islam and Islamism. GW has it spot on.


Yoni1

Sat, 02/05/2011 - 12:35

Rate this:

2 points

"No one says that Geert Wilders' comments are acceptable"

Err ... I do.

POST A COMMENT

You must be logged in to post a comment.

LATEST COMMENTS