Dutch Parliament Member Geert Wilders, whose film “Fitna” warns that Islam is threatening Western civilization, now has been banned from the United Kingdom.
Wilders had been invited to Britain for a special private screening of “Fitna” for Parliament in what already has been a controversial event because of challenges to his right to show the film.
“Fitna” features Quranic verses shown alongside images of the 9/11 terror attacks, the 2004 attacks in Madrid and the 2005 attacks in London.
The film calls on Muslims to remove “hate-preaching” verses from the text of their holy book.
Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, has been living under 24-hour protection from police since 2004. Al-Qaida has called for his murder.
According to a report on his website, Wilders was told today in a letter from the British embassy he would not be allowed to enter the UK.
“Great Britain is sacrificing freedom of speech,” Wilders said. “You would expect something like this to happen in countries like Saudi Arabia, but not in Great Britain. This cowardly act by the British government is a disgrace. I was invited by a British member of parliament.”
In fact, the Dutch parliamentarian had an invitation from the House of Lords to show his movie and participate in a debate about freedom of speech.
“I am seriously considering travelling to Great Britain anyway,” he warned.
Wilders’ 17-minute documentary, “Fitna,” meaning “strife,” likened the Quran to Adolf Hitler’s manifesto, “Mein Kampf.”
Judicial authorities in Amsterdam recently confirmed they planned to prosecute him for the film, stating, “In a democratic system, hate speech is considered so serious that it is in the general interest to … draw a clear line.”
The embassy letter said:
The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the Secretary of
State is of the view that your presence in the UK would pose a
genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the
fundamental interests of society. The Secretary of State is satisfied
that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in
your film Fitna and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and
therefore public security in the UK.
You are advised that should you travel to the UK and seek admission
an Immigration Officer will take into account the Secretary of
State’s view. If, in accordance with regulation 21 of the immigration
(European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, the Immigration Officer is
satisfied that your exclusion is justified on grounds of public
policy and/or public security, you will be refused admission to the
UK under regulation 19. You would have a right of appeal against any
refusal of admission, exercisable from outside the UK.
It was signed by Irving N. Jones on behalf of the secretary of state for the British Home Department.
Published reports say the private screening has been scheduled for tomorrow, despite threats of demonstrations issued by Muslim community leaders.
According to Radio Netherlands, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen already has contacted his UK counterpart, David Miliband, by telephone and expressed concern.
“The fact that a Dutch parliamentarian is refused entry to another EU country is highly regrettable,” Verhagen said.
“Fitna,” among other things, features archive footage of speeches from Muslim clerics, including one who demanded the “beheading” of all Jews.
Wilders released his film one year ago as Dutch leaders feared a reaction akin to the violence that followed the publication in Denmark of cartoons depicting Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.
Early critics had expressed fears the Wilders film would show a copy of the Quran being destroyed, but the ending offered a slight surprise.
As someone leafs through the Quran, a sound of tearing is heard.
“The sound you heard was from a page [being torn out] of the phone book. It is not up to me, but up to the Muslims themselves to tear the spiteful verses from the Quran,” text on the screen reads. “Stop Islamization. Defend our freedom,” the film concluded.
Wilders has received numerous death threats. His police protection has been in place because of the 2004 murder of Theo Van Gogh, the director of a film that exposed violence against women in Islamic societies.
Since the Van Gogh murder, the government of a nation proud of its liberal social attitudes has cut back on generous welfare programs to immigrants and made Dutch-language classes mandatory for newcomers.
Van Gogh’s film, “Submission,” was written by Wilders’ former political ally, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.