by Isi Leibler
The outcome of the current trial of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders on charges of "incitement to hatred" will represent a watershed in
Wilders, nicknamed Mozart because of his blond hair, is somewhat of a maverick. Voted politician of the year in 2007 by the Dutch media, he is a charismatic and popular politician who displays refreshing contempt for the hypocritical political correctness relating to Islam that has enveloped
Wilders opposes what he regards as the craven appeasement of the
Against the background of the massive influx of Muslim immigrants, he fears that having embraced post-modernism and cultural relativism, most Europeans lack the stamina to maintain their core values and are capitulating to Muslims determined to impose Shari'a law in
Wilders refers to Islam as "the Trojan horse in
As a youngster, Wilders lived for two years in
Two years ago, Wilders produced an explosive film titled Fitna, which graphically depicted the violence and denial of human rights prevailing in many Muslim countries. It highlighted practices such as stoning of adulterous women, beheadings, execution of apostates, honor killings, hanging of homosexuals, forced child marriages, female circumcision and other odious practices prevailing to this day in many Islamic societies.
Wilders denies he is a racist or fascist, insisting that "I make a distinction between the ideology of Islam and the people," emphatically reiterating that "my allies are not Le Pen or Haider... we will never join up with fascists".
IN THE current political environment, the critique of Islam carries heavy personal costs beyond political fallout. The rewards offered by Muslim extremists to anyone who succeeds in killing Wilders are not idle threats, as evidenced by the murder by a fanatical Muslim of Dutch media personality Theo Van Gogh several years ago. Over the past five and a half years Wilders has been under 24-hour police protection.
However, Wilders may have over-reached himself when he called for the banning of the Koran, which he compared to Mein Kampf, alleging that it incites Muslims to resort to violence. Whilst such provocative statements may have been deliberately expressed to dramatize the dangers confronting
This, together with his production of Fitna, led to him being charged with incitement to hatred and provided a rationale for many European politicians and governments to accuse him of demagoguery and promoting Islamophobia for political gain. For a time, he was even banned from the
That is not to deny that the Koran contains problematic sections which are cruel, violent, anti-Semitic and conflict with the human values which we cherish. But offensive expressions can be selectively extracted from sacred writings of all the major religions, including Christianity and Judaism.
Religions must be judged by the manner in which teachings are applied today. Wilders would have been better served had he concentrated on the fact that today, the dominant elements in Christianity and Judaism promote peaceful coexistence and tolerance whilst global Islam is associated with violence and murder.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is conscious of the growing anger and resentment of Islamic extremism in Western countries. To counter this, it has been employing its clout within the United Nations and other international organizations to create a climate in which any criticism of Islam, Islamic practices or behavior would be deemed a criminal offense and subject to prosecution. Since 2005, non-binding resolutions to this effect have been overwhelmingly endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly.
The OIC is now attempting to impose resolutions that would oblige UN member states to implement these draconian restrictions of freedom of expression. They appear to be succeeding. Last October, as an extension of President Barack Obama's undertaking to actively combat "negative stereotyping of Islam," the
WE JEWS, more than any minority, have suffered from incitement to hatred. But having regard to the extent to which Christianity and Judaism and its symbols are routinely satirized, mocked and abused in Western society, it would represent a bizarre application of double standards to prevent a man like Wilders from expressing critical views about Islam even if many disagree with him. Whilst democratic societies should prohibit incitement to violence, Wilders is surely entitled to be as critical about Islam as others are about communism, capitalism, Christianity or Judaism.
Besides, Islamic countries are notorious for denying freedom of worship and freedom of expression to Christians and Jews. Their culture, media and mosques are saturated with hatred of other religions, especially incitement against Jews. To enable them to impose restrictions on freedom of expression in Western countries would amount to capitulation and appeasement to aggressive Muslim minorities. Particularly so now, when imams and radical Islamists continuously call for the assassination of critics of Islam as exemplified by the murderous response to the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark.
Genuine coexistence with Islam can only be achieved if the moderate Muslims become sufficiently courageous to leave the closet and assume leadership positions. To achieve this,
For all these reasons, the outcome of the Wilders trial in the
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