News Agencies – May 10, 2011
The federally-funded National Arts Centre was surprised to learn it was hosting a talk by a Dutch politician facing charges of inciting hatred for making anti-Islamic statements in his own country. Geert Wilders, who is taking part in a cross-Canada speaking tour hosted by the International Free Press Society and the Canada Christian College, is infamous for his descriptions of Islam as a fascist religion, his declaration that Muslim youth are violent and his calls for a ban of the Koran.
Mr. Wilders, the leader of Holland’s Freedom Party, spoke to about 150 people at the invitation-only event at the National Arts Centre along with Sun News Network host Ezra Levant and two other speakers. The Toronto speech was held at the Canada Christian College, a private institution. The Ottawa speech was held at the Arts Centre, which receives nearly half of its funding from the federal government.
NAC spokeswoman Rosemary Thompson said that the International Free Press Society called the catering department about a month ago and said that they had a Dutch MP coming to Canada for a speaking tour and that it was part of the Tulip Festival. The Canadian Tulip Festival – an annual event in Ottawa – had nothing to do with the event involving Mr. Wilders.
National Post – May 5, 2011
Geert Wilders has made his name as one of the world’s most outspoken opponents of Islam. The controversial Dutch parliamentarian does not hate Muslims, he’s famously said, but he does hate Islam. Mr. Wilders will bring his message to Canada, a country he says faces the same prospects of being Islamicized as his own. He is the marquee speaker at an invitation-only event hosted by the International Free Press Society and the Canada Christian College.
“Geert Wilders has a warning for Canada, and his warning is about a lack of free speech here and the threat of demographic jihad,” said Charles McVety, president of the Canada Christian College. “Islam is not just a religion, it’s a political and cultural system and we know that Christians, Jews and Hindus don’t have the same mandate for a hostile takeover. Here in Canada there is a real, clear and present danger. And we’re not even allowed to say anything about it. That’s what Geert Wilders is going to talk about.”
Members of the Toronto Muslim community say they were unaware of any planned hostile takeover and dismiss Mr. Wilders as racist and illinformed. Dr Liyakat Takim, Sharjah Chair in Global Islam at McMaster University, said if discussions over radical Islam and multiculturalism in Canada are worth having, a closed presentation by Mr. Wilders is not the way to go about that. Farooq Khan, executive director of the North American Muslim Foundation, said Mr. Wilders and his allies only make religious and cultural tensions worse.
December 3, 2010
MP for Danish People’s Party, Jesper Langballe, has been convicted of libel. In January 2010 a heated debate took place in Denmark in continuation of controversial statements on Muslim fathers and rape made by president of the Danish Free Press Society, Lars Hedegaard. Jesper Langballe, in a feature in a nationwide paper wrote: “of course Hedegaard shouldn’t say that Muslim fathers rape their daughters when the truth is that they kill them (the so called honour killings) – and in addition don’t pay notice to uncles’ rape of their daughters”. The statements led to condemnation of Langballe from all parts of the political spectrum – including the Danish Prime Minister who said: “Langballe’s words are stupid and generalizing”.
December 3 2010 Langballe was sentenced a fine of 5000 Danish Kroner.
The 30 year old Muslim Ahmed Mohamud has been elected vice chairman of the Free Press Society. The Free Press Society was established in 2004. Its mission is to defend the right of free speech. However a broad spectrum of debaters and political commentators have been criticizing the Free Press Society for not being the defender of freedom of speech they claim to be but instead being a forum for Islamophobia and being closely linked to the right-wing party Danish People’s Party. In January 2010 the chairman Lars Hedegaard was heavily criticized for saying that: “Muslims rape their own children. You hear that all the time. Girls in Muslim families are being raped by their uncles, their cousins or their fathers”.
Lars Hedegaard welcomes Ahmed Mohamud as vice chairman and says: I never opposed Muslims. Some of us have used our freedom of speech to criticize Islam as a political system. Everybody can be a member of the Free Press Society no matter what they believe in, as long as they support freedom of speech”.
Ahmed Mohamud is of Somali origin, nurse by profession and openly gay. He doesn’t see any contradictions in him being the Society’s vice chairman and being Muslim. “If I was solely to interact with people like myself I would be very isolated. I don’t think I sanction certain opinions by being the vice chairman for the Free Press Society. To me the right of freedom of speech is central and I think it’s essential that we speak to each other instead of fighting each other” Mohamud says.
A heated debate is taking place in Denmark between leading political commentators and the president of the Danish Free Press Society. Just before Christmas the president of the Free Press Society, Lars Hedegaard, in a video interview said: “Muslims rape their own children. You hear that all the time. Girls in Muslim families are being raped by their uncles, their cousins or their fathers”. In protest against these utterances MPs Naser Khader and Søren Pind and Christian priest Katrine Lilleør left the Free Press Society.
The Free Press Society was established in 2004. Its mission is to defend the right of free speech. However, a broad spectrum of debaters and political commentators are criticizing Hedegaard and the Free Press Society for not being the defender of freedom of speech they claim to be, but instead being a forum for Islamophobia and being closely linked to the right-wing party the Danish People’s Party.
December 22, 2009 Lars Hedegaard was reported to the police for violating the so-called racism-paragraph that forbids utterances which could be understood as demeaning or deriding due to race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexuality.
The Free Press Society of 2004, a Danish press freedom group, said that it has invited Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders to talk about his anti-Quran film _Fitna.’ Lars Hedegaard, president of the society, said the invitation to Wilders should not be seen as a provocation against Muslims, but as an opening to address the debate on the right of free speech. “He has been badmouthed and persecuted by almost everyone in Europe,” Hedegaard said of the right-wing lawmaker. “He has not committed a crime as far as I know. He has simply voiced his opinion,” Hedegaard said. A response to the invitation by Wilders has not yet been made public.