Wilders on the right to criticize Islam
[I]n Europe it is now all but impossible to have a debate about the nature of Islam, or about the effects of immigration of Islam’s adherents.
In a column
in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal
, Geert Wilders accurately states the problem with the EU’s anti-hate speech codes: they criminalize discussion, particularly truthful discussion about the nature and doctrines of Islam. But then, instead of calling for the repeal of all such laws, Wilders only calls for his own acquittal under the anti-hate speech law in the Netherlands. This is illogical. As long as the hate-speech laws exist, Wilders and all Islam critics will continue to be subject to prosecution under them. This is why I have been saying for the last three years, both privately and publicly, that the anti-Islamization movement must make its top priority the repeal of Europe’s speech codes. Without such repeal, the anti-Islamization movement will remain essentially a series of trials of individuals for saying such things as “Islam is a totalitarian political ideology,” “Islam is a wicked and evil religion,” “Islam is cruel to women,” or “Muhammad was a pedophile.” As long as the focus of the anti-Islamization movement is the defense of individuals who have been charged with insulting Islam, a full critique of the Islam threat, not to mention a practical agenda to do something about it, will never get off the ground.
Also, it is surprising that Wilders remains silent on this crucial point in his WSJ article, since he himself, in February 2009, advocated the withdrawal of all the European hate speech laws. He said:
I propose the withdrawal of all hate speech legislation in Europe. I propose a European First Amendment. Freedom of speech is the keystone of our Western civilization, it is the keystone of our democracies and the keystone of our freedom. That is why freedom of speech should be extended instead of restricted.
Below is Wilder’s WSJ article. In the next entry
I have copied my January 2009 e-mail to the officers of the International Free Press Society in which I lay out the above argument in more detail.
February 22, 2011
Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 23, 2011 10:06 AM | Send
European Free Speech Under Attack
Defending the right to say that Islam is primarily a totalitarian ideology aiming for world domination.
By GEERT WILDERS
“The lights are going out all over Europe,” British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey famously remarked on the eve of World War I. I am reminded of those words whenever I read about Europeans being dragged into court for so-called hate-speech crimes.
Recently, Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard, president of the International Free Press Society, had to stand trial in Copenhagen because he had criticized Islam. Mr. Hedegaard was acquitted, but only on the technicality that he had not known that his words, expressed in a private conversation, were being taped. Last week in Vienna, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian human-rights activist, was fined 480 euros for calling the Islamic prophet Muhammad a pedophile because he had consummated his marriage to a nine-year old girl. Meanwhile, my own trial in Amsterdam is dragging on, consuming valuable time that I would rather spend in parliament representing my million-and-a-half voters.
How can all this be possible in supposedly liberal Europe? The Dutch penal code states that anyone who either “publicly, verbally or in writing or image, deliberately expresses himself in any way that incites hatred against a group or people” or “in any way that insults a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief, their hetero- or homosexual inclination or their physical, psychological or mental handicap, will be punished.”
Early in 2008, a number of leftist and Islamic organizations took me to court, claiming that by expressing my views on Islam I had deliberately “insulted” and “incited hatred” against Muslims. I argued then, as I will again in my forthcoming book, that Islam is primarily a totalitarian ideology aiming for world domination.
Last October, my former colleague in the Dutch parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, wrote in these pages of the way in which Islamic organizations abuse our freedoms in order to limit them. “There are,” she wrote, “the efforts of countries in the Organization of the Islamic Conference to silence the European debate about Islam,” citing their strategy “to pressure international organizations and the European Union to adopt resolutions to punish anyone who engages in ‘hate speech’ against religion. The bill used to prosecute Mr. Wilders is the national version of what OIC diplomats peddle at the U.N. and EU.”
Indeed, in 2008 the EU approved its so-called “Council Framework Decision on combating Racism and Xenophobia,” and the EU’s 27 nations have since had to incorporate it into their national legislation. The decision orders that “racist or xenophobic behavior must constitute an offence in all Member States and be punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties.” It defines “racism and xenophobia” so broadly that every statement that an individual might perceive as insulting to a group to which he belongs becomes punishable by law.
The perverse result is that in Europe it is now all but impossible to have a debate about the nature of Islam, or about the effects of immigration of Islam’s adherents. Take my own case, for example. My point is that Islam is not so much a religion as it is a totalitarian political ideology disguised as a religion. To avoid misunderstandings, I always emphasize that I am talking about Islam, not about Muslims. I make a clear distinction between the people and the ideology, between Muslims and Islam, recognizing that there are many moderate Muslims. But the political ideology of Islam is not moderate and has global ambitions; the Koran orders Muslims to establish the realm of Allah in this world, if necessary by force.
Stating my views on Islam has brought me to court on charges of “group insult” and incitement to racial hatred. I am being tried for voicing opinions that I—and my constituents—consider to be the truth. I am being tried for challenging the views that the ruling establishment wants to impose on us as the truth.
When I stand before my judges I do so in defense of free speech and human liberty. Freedom is the source of human creativity and development. People and nations wither away without the freedom to question what is presented to them as the truth. There is reason for concern if the erosion of our freedom of speech is the price we must pay to accommodate Islam. There is reason for concern if those who deny that Islam is a problem do not grant us the right to debate the issue. I want to be able to make my case without needing to fear criminal prosecution. It is already bad enough that I have been living under permanent police protection for more than six years because jihadists want to murder me.
My trial is a political trial. It is tragic that after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, political trials in Europe were not cast onto the ash heap of history. Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky has previously referred to the European Union as the “EUSSR.” One of his arguments is that in the EU, as in the former USSR, there is no freedom of speech.
I should be acquitted. My trial in Amsterdam is not about me, but about freedom of speech in Europe. As Dwight D. Eisenhower, Europe’s liberator from Nazism, once warned, freedom “must be daily earned and refreshed—else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” Today in Europe, freedom is being neither earned nor refreshed.