The unusual career of Dutch politician Geert Wilders has fascinated me for years. Wilders, who leads the right-wing Dutch Party for Freedom, has been a vocal critic of Islam and Muslim immigration. His outspoken disdain for the changing demographics in the Netherlands has resulted in numerous death threats. Wilders now lives like a prisoner in his own country. Every day, he and his wife are ferried around to secret locations in military bases and safe houses by a special detachment of the Dutch police.
As though Wilders’ disrupted lifestyle were not a sufficient price to pay for speaking his mind, a Dutch court in 2011 attempted to convict him of hate speech when he compared Islam with fascism. You see, the Netherlands is blessed with what has become the vogue in many European countries—“hate speech” laws that prohibit criticism of religion. Happily, the case against Wilders was eventually thrown out. I remember being relieved at the time. My fear was that freedom of speech was dead in, of all places, tolerant little Holland.
Well, here we go again. The Dutch judicial system went after him once more this year when Wilders asked a crowd in The Hague if they wanted fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands. And this time they got him. On December 9, a Dutch court convicted Wilders of “insulting a group and inciting discrimination.” Although the court did not impose a punishment, the precedent was set for placing limitations on free speech.
“The Netherlands has become a sick country,” said Wilders in reaction to the court that convicted him. “You have restricted the freedom of speech for millions of Dutch. But fortunately, truth and liberty are stronger than you.” He may be wrong about that. The assault on individual rights is supported by the European Union with convictions under similar hate laws occurring in France and the U.K.
What these restrictive court decisions are actually doing is masking a reluctance on the part of European countries to acknowledge the threat posed by Muslim immigration. The open border policy in the Netherlands, for example, has spawned dozens of crime-ridden “no-go” zones throughout Holland because so many of the Muslim immigrants refuse to assimilate. In her book, Infidel, former Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes the plight of thousands of women and children in Holland who are being “systematically abused,” beaten half to death, or even killed by their Muslim husbands, fathers, and boyfriends while the state looks the other way. Holland hides behind its anti-hate laws to avoid taking responsibility for the calamity that is taking place within its borders. Anyone who mentions the problem of Muslim immigration is automatically accused of racism.
The winner in all this, believe it or not, is Islam. When freedom of speech is curtailed because Muslims complain they are being victimized, it plays into what is known as “civilizational jihad”—the attempt to transform Western societies so they can be brought under the control of Islamic law, known as sharia. Sharia does not recognize freedom of speech, nor does it accept any concept of individual rights as embraced by the West. The self-destructive policies of European countries, led by Angela Merkel’s open door policy in Germany, are collaborating with the Muslim hardliners who seek to destroy Western Civilization.
How ironic. As in the United States, the European left is attacking free speech and the right is defending. One unintended result of Geert Wilders’ conviction is that it may backfire by fueling support for right-wing parties throughout Europe. Wilders, whose Party for Freedom is leading in the polls, could be Holland’s next prime minister.
Ed Brodow is a negotiation expert, political commentator, and author of In Lies We Trust: How Politicians and the Media Are Deceiving the American Public.
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