Liberty Stands In The Dock

In Holland tomorrow, the trial of Geert Wilders begins. The world will be watching to see whether Europe is still to be a place where free people can speak out in defense of their besieged homeland and culture, or whether the battle may indeed already be lost. The International Free Press Society has organized a Festschrift in Mr. Wilders’ behalf.

The IFPS explains:

Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders goes on trial in Amsterdam on Wednesday, January 20, on charges related to his political campaign to stop and reverse the Islamization of the Netherlands. The International Free Press Society has asked an array of legal experts, authors and journalists to reflect on this momentous event, and we present their comments below.

Here are some excerpts. First, Bat Ye’or:

Muslims might feel insulted by Geert Wilders’ opinions on Islam. However, Geert Wilders and non-Muslims feel insulted – threatened — by the hostile and negative opinions on them enshrined in Muslim holy books, laws and customs. These are not hidden or dismissed as outdated, but continuously and proudly published, taught and publicly expounded throughout the world — without being opposed by Muslim leaders.

Western governments must decide whether they judge by Western or shariah laws. Wilders has defied shariah law, and, as a consequence, his life is in constant danger. It seems to me that the threats against him are the real crimes the Netherlands should address. If Wilders is convicted, Europeans will see in such a verdict the suppression of their own freedom to defend themselves and their submission to dhimmitude.

The Free World is watching and listening. Buying Europe’s security by appeasement, political correctness, self-censorship and the Palestinisation of society, will lead only to civil wars.
Humans have short memories. But history will record that Wilder’s trial will either condemn freedom of speech, or support this most precious right of Mankind against intellectual terror and cultural totalitarianism.

And Clare M. Lopez:

When Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders goes on trial this week in the Netherlands, he will stand alone before a Dutch court. But make no mistake: it is the very principle of free speech which hangs in the balance there. Brought up on charges of inciting hatred, Wilders is one of the few leaders anywhere in the Western world who dares to denounce a supremacist Islamic doctrine that commands its faithful to jihad and terror against non-believers. As he showed so honestly in his courageous film, ‘Fitna,’ a system of pluralist, tolerant, liberal democracy is fundamentally incompatible with literal, textual Islam as presented on the pages of the Qur’an.

Increasingly, Wilders’ fellow countrymen and lovers of individual liberty under rule of man-made law across Europe are responding to his call to confront those who would follow the way of Islamic jihad. We all are beginning to understand that Geert Wilders is Everyman—every man and woman who believes in the freedom to speak one’s mind, to express truth as he sees it without fear of repression or prosecution. Free speech means nothing if it does not include the right to offend, and no belief system, not Islam and not any other, can be exempt. To speak the truth is no crime—but to rise up in gratuitous violence at the sound of truth, however offensive, ought to be.

Daniel Pipes:

Who is the most important European alive today? I nominate the Dutch politician Geert Wilders. I do so because he is best placed to deal with the Islamic challenge facing the continent. He has the potential to emerge as a world-historical figure.

The Islamic challenge consists of two components: on the one hand, an indigenous population’s withering Christian faith, inadequate birthrate, and cultural diffidence, and on the other an influx of devout, prolific, and culturally assertive Muslim immigrants. This fast-moving situation raises questions about Europe retaining its historic civilization; it become a majority-Muslim continent living under Islamic law (the Shari‘a).

Wilders, 46, founder and head of the Party for Freedom (PVV), is the unrivaled leader of those Europeans who wish to retain their historic identity. That’s because he and the PVV differ from most of Europe’s other nationalist, anti-immigrant parties.

The PVV is politically mainstream, with its roots lying not in neo-Fascism, nativism, conspiricism, antisemitism, or other forms of extremism, but in libertarianism and mainstream conservatism.

Wilders today represents all those Westerners who cherish their civilization. The outcome of his trial has implications for us all.

David B. Harris:

Wilders is an international voice of resistance against the supremacist, totalitarian impulses, demands and incursions of radical Islam – “Islamism”.

In truth, many reasonable voices object to some of his ideas, such as the banning of the Qur’an, and his tone can be provocative in ways that play into the hands of those hoping to divert attention from the radical Islamic threat. But Wilders’ words, for better or worse, are the stuff of vigorous exchanges of views in an open, plural world. To the extent that he is warning about documented threats, his focus is timely. To the extent that his country’s governing elites, like those in many Western countries, often abdicate responsibility for recognizing and dealing with the multi-front threat of Islamism, Wilders warnings can be imperative.

Wilders sees the tripartite menace of Islamism. He sounds the alarm on the threat and actuality of growing terrorist violence. He identifies Islamic radicalism as in many cases a preparatory phase for this violence and associated subversion. And he sees that a “soft jihad” is also afoot, a nonviolent jihad of demands to privilege Muslims within society, demands that are contrary to every constitutional principle of equality known to Western liberal values – and the Dutch constitution. In short, Wilders recognizes the range of the threat, from the violent rampages of outright terrorists to the charm offensives of business-suited Islamists.

A legal and philosophical analysis by David Yerushalmi begins with:

Geert Wilders, Member of Parliament of the Netherlands and chairman of the Freedom Party, goes on trial Wednesday in the land of the Dutch. His alleged crime: criticizing Islam in such a way that it insults Muslims and causes other people to hate devout Muslims because of their faith in Islam and its scriptures. Specifically, the lengthy summons and charge sheet set out a host of Wilders’ statements that violate two specific criminal laws. One, Wilders publicly dared to criticize Islam and its scripture in such a way that he insulted devout Muslims who take their faith in Islam seriously. Two, his public statements incite others to hate or discriminate against Muslims because of their religious beliefs. If found guilty, Wilders might very well be imprisoned and stripped of his political office.

The case demonstrates in classic terms the convergence between the Left and tyranny, a relationship documented historically by many commentators and pundits, but not well explained. In the Dutch state’s zeal to prosecute Wilders, we have the opportunity to understand in theoretical and in existential terms, how Western Elites in the guise of Progressive governance seek to destroy their own national existence and to impose an iron-fisted control over thought and speech.

Diana West:

I cannot overestimate the epochal importance of the court proceeding taking place next Wednesday the 20th in the Netherlands where Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders goes on trial for an array of charges that arises from his courageous and increasingly successful efforts to lead his countrymen against the Islamization of their country and the wider West. A man of political action, Wilders has been targeted not just for his political speech, but for his effectiveness as an advocate of liberty and pluralism, neither of which can survive in societies that are governed by, or in thrall to sharia (Islamic law).

It is not just the repressions and depredations of Islam that Wilders is outspoken about — a subject well-ploughed by certain academics and journalists alike. He is equally if almost singularly outspoken about the political remedies necessary to halt the extension of Islam’s law. Such remedies include stopping Islamic immigration and deporting agents of jihad. These are simple measures any democratic state that wished to repeal Islamization would take. These are simple measures that the Netherlands would take if Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom, which now rivals the country’s ruling party, ever came to power.

It is a political trial, then, in the worst sense, that we are about to witness. And it is about more than the future of freedom of speech. The trial of Geert Wilders is about the future of freedom.

Mark Steyn:

Behind this disgraceful prosecution lies a simple truth that the Dutch establishment cannot tell its people – that, unless something changes, their nation will become more and more Muslim and, very soon, slip past the point of no return. They understand the tensions between their ever more assertive Muslim population and an aging “native” working class, but they believe that the problem can be managed by placing “the European conversation” – the non-subterranean conversation – within ever narrower constraints, and criminalizing any opinions outside those bounds. Some of them are blinkered and stupid enough to think that they need to do this in order to save the tolerant multicultural society from “right wingers” like Wilders. In fact, all they are doing is hastening the rate at which their society will be delivered into the hands of the avowedly intolerant and unicultural. In its death throes, Eutopia has decided to smash the lights of liberty.

Finally, Nidra Poller:

There is no justification for the persecution of Geert Wilders. He is a legitimate political figure who speaks for a growing sector of the Dutch population and represents a hope for citizens of other European countries struggling to defend civilized values on the battlefields of a frankly declared war–the jihad– which their leaders and opinion-makers are determined to hide from view. European citizens are asking their governments to set limits on Islamic encroachment–the minaret construction freeze voted in a Swiss referendum—and the will of the people sometimes reaches the ears of their elected representatives– forthcoming law against full facial veiling in France, cancellation of permit for a mega-mosque at London’s 2012 Olympic site.
Geert Wilders has played an essential role in this transmission. Precisely because the “far right extremist populist” label written up for him by jihad sources and repeated by mindless journalists does not apply. When men and women of integrity stand up to confront the Islamic assault on our civilized values, they attract broad public support. The danger in Europe today does not come from the last dredges of retrograde extreme right forces, it comes from the jihad friendly Left. Communists, socialists, and ecologists in France shamelessly court the Muslim vote and accuse the Sarkozy government of pétainisme for daring to deport illegal immigrants.
Is this the lesson Europe has drawn from the Shoah? What could be more obscene than enrolling 6 million exterminated Jews in a battle to deprive one honest upstanding legitimate popular Dutch MP of the freedom to oppose the spread of an ideology that blatantly plans the extermination of the remaining Jewish population of the world? And actively promotes the plan here and now in Europe.

Unsurprisingly, there are those who would like to silence the IFPS as well: it has come under cyberattack repeatedly in recent days, and in fact the site was unavailable earlier today. (The essays have also been reprinted over at Gates of Vienna.)

We will be following this trial as closely as we can . It may be difficult: the press has been, in perhaps the most ominous sign of all, barred from the courtroom.

May justice, and Western civilization, prevail.

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One Comment

  1. bob koepp says

    Malcolm –
    Bat Ye’or gets it right: “It seems to me that the threats against him [Wilders] are the real crimes the Netherlands should address.”

    … and then, levying substantial fines against anybody who publicly advocates violating the legal rights of any fellow citizen. I suspect there would be a lot fewer calls for butchering non-submissive sorts.

    Posted January 20, 2010 at 10:03 am | Permalink