Author Ian Buruma on Wilders’ Politics: ‘Condemning Islam, Per Se, Is Unhelpful’

In a SPIEGEL ONLINE interview, Dutch author Ian Buruma discusses the run-up to the release of Gert Wilders’ anti-Islam film, populist trends in the Netherlands and the environment that the led to polemics against Muslims like “Fitna.” Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders released on Thursday his video comparing the threat of Islam in Europe to the fascism that triggered World War II. The film calls for Europeans to put a stop to what he alleges is the Islamization of Western Europe caused by mass immigration from Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East. It’s a kind of rhetoric that would have been impossible in the Netherlands little more than a decade ago — a country long known abroad as a kind of overgrown Berkeley, a bastion of 1960s idealism. Cops looked the other way as coffee shops sold soft drugs, it became one of the first countries to adopt same-sex marriages and the peaceful co-existence of Dutch society with its immigrants, many of the Muslim, seemed exemplary.