Thursday, 12 February 2009

Wilders does not incite violence

Today's decision by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to ban Geert Wilders from entering the UK is spectacularly inept.

Not only is it wrong in principle (I thought we were meant to have freedom of movement in the EU?), it's also been counter-productive. The decision has ensured far more publicity for Wilders' views than he would ever have got if he'd been allowed in.

Like many people, I looked on the net to see what all the fuss was about and watched Fitna, the video at the centre of the controversy. And, having watched it, I am clear that it does NOT incite violence or hatred against Islam as a whole. It is extremely critical of Islamic extremism, often in quite a graphic way, but there is nothing in it which I think would be likely to incite violence.

That makes Smith's decision to ban him in my view utterly ludicrous. And it also makes Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne wrong to support her decision. I was a supporter of Chris during both recent leadership elections, but I think he's got this one badly wrong.

Wilders' views on Islam are, I think, both wrong and fairly repugnant. And, if you Google for "Geert Wilders video" you will find not only the film itself, but also several refutations of it, which indicate that Wilders has based his views on Koranic translations which may be false and taken out of context.

For me this does raise a question about how we tackle extremist views of all kinds. Banning Wilders from entering the UK is certainly counter-productive and it means that the arguments against his position haven't really been put.

But there is also an issue about how we tackle some of the extremist Islamic views which Wilders highlights in his film. And one of the problems of this whole affair is that the voices of moderate Muslims have been drowned out - both by those Muslims for whom Wilders' presence was a problem and by Wilders himself.

If we are to tackle the very real threat of Islamic extremism, then in future we have to avoid creating sympathy for extremist voices such as Wilders by banning him. But we also have to strengthen moderate Muslim voices, to avoid the sort of fears that people like Wilders play upon.

UPDATE: Lib Dem Voice also has a discussion on the subject, on which I've also expressed my views. It includes a link to something Chris Huhne has previously said on a similar subject. Can we have the old Chris Huhne back please?

3 comments:

Bunc said...

Hi film certainly does not incite acial hared. it may incite suspicion of the agenda of some elements within Islam but then there was already good evidence for that view. banning him was disgraceful I dont agree with many of his views but we dont ban people simply becasue we dont like their views. We are in grave danger of pandering to extremist sections of Islam.

KelvinKid said...

I am clear that it does NOT incite violence or hatred against Islam We must have watched different films Bernard.

ahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL9XoM1rbG8

This is not a BBC documentary, it is a propaganda piece which traduces Islam and seeks to stoke up hatred against Muslims. I note the LDV posting on Wenders own commitment to freedom at

http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-wilders-contradictions-11249.html.

In addition to a wish to ban the Koran Wenders has called for a ban on Muslim head dress, the use of the army in public spaces, and the removal of the first article of the Dutch constitution which gives Dutch citizens equality before the law and non discrimination. This is no champion of freedom, rather another rascist in a suit like Nick Griffin. I agree with Huhne. Keep this filth far from our shores.

Bernard Salmon said...

KelvinKid: I agree that it is anti-Islamic propaganda and as such it is repugnant. But it doesn't incite violence.
And it's a very slippery slope when you say that because someone doesn't really believe in freedom, they're to be denied freedom themselves.

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