City of Brass

City of Brass


defending Geert Wilders

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Incendiary Dutch politician Geert Wilders will be brought to trial for comparing Islam to Nazism:

Geert Wilders made headlines in March 2008 for his short-film Fitna, which juxtaposed shots of the 9/11 attacks on the US with quotations from the Quran, the text Muslims believe to be divinely revealed.

In 2007 he had called for a ban on the Quran and compared Islam to Nazism.

On Wednesday, Amsterdam’s appeals court ordered his prosecution,
overruling the public prosecutor who had previously decided against a
criminal trial.

A
summary of the court’s decision read: “The court considers this so
insulting for Muslims that it is in the public interest to prosecute
Wilders.

“The court also considers appropriate criminal prosecution for
insulting Muslim worshippers because of comparisons between Islam and
Nazism made by Wilders.”

I’m no fan of Wilders but this is indeed an affront against free speech. It should be noted though that the West’s own tradition of free speech is a recent invention, and almost entirely an American one. Europe has never been a bastion of free speech, with Holocaust denial laws (see the case of David Irving), bans on hijab, and opposition to mosque construction are just a few prominent examples of the double standard when it comes to “protected” speech for Jews and Christians, but not for muslims. 

Personally, I would prefer to see all restrictions speech dropped – the best answer to bad speech is more speech, not less. As an American, we can criticize by comparison, but there is nothing profoundly or inherently anti-Western about silencing Wilders. Calling it dhimmitude is an excercise in denial; when the same self-styled defenders of Western ideals call for abolition of all speech laws in Europe, then we can take them seriously.



  • http://www.deanesmay.com Kevin D.

    The speech that needs to be protected most is the speech you dislike. It sucks but, as I’m sure you’re aware of, speech we happen to think is good and useful could quickly find itself on the most hated list and we’d want protections ourselves.
    Speech that roused the spirits of disquieted subjects of King George would have hung the speakers had we not won the war.
    All that said, I think the community should have recourse to address speech they don’t like. I think it should stay out of the courts, and shouldn’t get physical, but I have no problem with public shunning or something like that. Make the person speaking realize they’re not wanted and, eventually, lacking an audience, they’ll leave. Freedom of speech isn’t freedom from consequence. If you have the freedom to speak, others have the freedom to not listen to you – even if that means petitioning radio, television, and magazines not to carry you.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    Europe has never been a bastion of free speech
    i would say england has been a bit different traditionally. even in the 18th century they were notoriously lax about enforcing any censorship laws.

  • Your Name

    Well, I don’t see anyone in Europe getting arrested for criticizing Christianity (and don’t tell me its becuase nobody criticizes Christianity), and after the vile displays of anti-semitism throughout the European-Muslim community during the recent Gaza conflict, it is simply Orwellian to suggest that the double standard in Europe is directed against Islam.

  • Your Name

    Thank you for standing up for free speech. I agree and I would also add that the same should be said for those who deny the holocaust, referring to the backlash in France a few years back and against Iran’s leader. I am jewish I know what happened, but I don’t believe people should be arrested for saying it didn’t. It is up to each of us to learn the truth for ourselves we don’t need governments arresting poeple just because what they say is offensive.
    To often we have used the holocaust as a cloak to hide the smaller but no less horrendous holocaust being committed against the Palestinian people. Did the suffering of my grandparents teach us nothing? Anyway let us speak our minds hopefully with respect for one another, but certainly not with fear of arrest.

  • Aziz Poonawalla

    I have to disagree that there should be recourse to change speech. I guess I am an absolutist; but to me the only valid response to speech you don’t like, is more speech.
    Note that I dont think boycotts and pressure on broadcasters via their advertisers is a violation of free speech – those are market-based pressures which are valid. Is that the recourse you have in mind?

  • Robert

    I’m entirely in favor of free speech, one caveat: I demand the freedom not to have to listen.
    But I am glad I stopped by to read your post. Please keep on blogging.

  • Pablito

    Even exerting financial pressure is a limitation on free speech. We need to create more venues in which the powerless can express themselves. Financial pressure has kept us from hearing voices that could bring us great benefit.

  • Anton

    This is an excellent post and a potent reminder that hate, discrimination and injustice cannot be legislated away.

  • West

    “when the same self-styled defenders of Western ideals call for abolition of all speech laws in Europe, then we can take them seriously. ”
    I know of no defenders of Western Ideals who have endorsed speech restrictions in Europe. Maybe you could list them. Anyone’s failure to condemn all speech restrictions while defending Mr. Wilders is a failure of your own device. It is the defense of a free speech that counts, not the particulars of inclusiveness which you demand.
    As a second point, could you point me to the standards body or governmental agency (national or international) that officially registers defenders of Western ideals, so we can get all those self styled” busybodies the proper credentials you seem to desire?

  • Your Name

    Well the main problem is the so-called Muslims who are using islam for their own barbaric desires and wrongly interpreting the meaning of jihad.
    As well as the backward illitrate uncivilzed so-called muslims who have infiltered so much of their own backward culture in the religion itself and have been and are still giving a very a very poor and unislamic image of the Islam meaning peace.
    Geert Wilders, born in an advanced civilized country is supoosed to be well-educated. He shoulkd know better. He is showing that he’s no different.
    The motto of the real Islam is ‘Love for all hatred for none’civilzed and tolerant behaviour, love for knowledge and education.
    Its a pity that lack of education and ‘milk of human kindness’and intoelarnce have led to such dire circumsatnces.
    Peace, love and tolerance

  • Fursac Montautre

    Don’t for Geert Wilders!
    Stop talking, start acting.
    Isn’t Geert’s freedom worth a stamp?
    If Geert Wilders falls, then Freedom of speech is dead in Europe. We are launching an extensive International Action SITA including two possible texts ; one comparing Wilders and Winston Churchill and another Wilders and Charlie Chaplin:
    http://sitamnesty.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/i-support-democrat-geert-winston-wilders-against-islamic-fascism-and-its-dhimmis
    http://sitamnesty.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/i-support-democrat-geert-charlie-wilders-against-islamic-fascism
    To support Geert Wilders and our dearly acquired freedoms please participate to the 2 suggested actions and transmit this message to your friends owners of a website in order they publish it.
    An other way to support Geert Wilders is to give some money. To donate: http://www.geertwilders.nl

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