The far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders arrived in London after an immigration tribunal ruling overturned a ban on his visiting Britain. The Home Office said it was disappointed after the tribunal rejected its claim that his presence could “inflame community tensions and lead to interfaith violence”.
Geert Wilders expanded on his controversial views on Islam and described the decision to allow him into the country as a “victory for the freedom of speech”. At a press conference moved inside the Houses of Parliament because of fears for Wilders’s safety, the Freedom party leader said that Islamic culture was inferior to western cultures. He said he had “nothing against” Muslims, but had a problem with the “Islamification of our societies”. “I have a problem with the Islamic ideology, the Islamic culture, because I feel that the more Islam that we get in our societies the less freedom that we get.”
Wilders will, however, not be screening his film Fitna, which criticises the Quran as a “fascist book”, on this trip. The film had been intended to be shown at the House of Lords in February. He said he still intended to screen the film in the House of Lords in the future.
Controversial politician and leader of the right-wing Freedom Party (PVV) Geert Wilders traveled to the United Kingdom on Friday. The visit comes after the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in London ruled earlier this week that Wilders should not have been refused entry to the country in February 2009.
Wilders was invited in February to show his anti-Islam film Fitna at the House of Lords, the UK upper house of parliament. The invitation had come from UK Independence party peer, Lord Pearson. The British Home Office refused Mr Wilders entry to the country, giving the reason that his visit would “threaten community security and therefore public security”. A British organisation that promotes freedom of expression, the Birkenhead Society, had brought the case on his behalf, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports.
BBC reports that Wilders told a packed press conference in Westminster he was “proud of the UK asylum and immigration tribunal” for overturning the ban, and repeated his criticism of Muslim ideology, defending his call for the Quran to be banned in Holland. About 40 Muslim protesters gathered outside the Abbey Gardens buildings, opposite the Houses of Parliament, where the press conference was held.
The British government seems to have embarked on a new strategy on labelling terrorists and their recruiting agents as security officials believe that directly linking terrorism to Islam is inflammatory, and risks alienating mainstream Muslim opinion. Though the British Home Office stressed that no phrases have been banned, sources made it clear that the “war on terror” and “Islamic extremism” will not be used by top officials. British ministers have already adopted a new language for declarations on Islamic terrorism. In her first major speech on radicalisation, home secretary Jacqui Smith repeatedly used the phrase “anti-Islamic” in a carefully crafted strategy, sources said. In future, fanatics will be referred to as pursuing “anti-Islamic activity”. Security officials believe that directly linking terrorism to Islam is inflammatory, and risks alienating mainstream Muslim opinion. The shift follows a decision taken last year to stop using the phrase “war on terror”, first adopted by US President George Bush, Daily Mail newspaper reported.