The Geert Wilders trial is an affront to Western Liberty.
To read the official summons addressed to him—a sitting member of the Dutch Parliament and the head of a major Dutch political party—is all but surreal. It is to feel as if one has been hurled back into a distant, pre-Enlightenment era; it is to feel that in one fell swoop, the illusion of freedom in Europe has been extinguished. (An English translation is available here.)
The charges are itemized. First, Wilders is charged with having “intentionally offended a group of people, i.e. Muslims, based on their religion.” Second, with having “incited to hatred of people, i.e. Muslims, based on their religion.” Third, with having “incited to discrimination . . . against people, i.e. Muslims, based on their religion.” Fourth, with having “incited to hatred of people, i.e. non-Western immigrants and/or Moroccans, based on their race.” And fifth, with having “incited to discrimination . . . against people, i.e. non-Western immigrants and/or Moroccans, based on their race.”
Supporting these charges is a long list of statements from Wilders, many purely factual, others opinions that follow logically from those facts. Among them: “The demographic composition of the population is the biggest problem of the Netherlands” and “those Moroccan boys are really violent. They beat up people because of their sexual orientation.” Absurdly, among the statements cited in support of the charges against Wilders are his direct quotations from the Koran in Fitna, such as “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers in fight, smite at their necks; at length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly on them” and “Fight them until there is no dissension, and the religion is entirely Allah’s.” The summons also mentions footage shown in Fitna of imams preaching against unbelievers: “What makes Allah happy? Allah is happy if non-Muslims are being killed” and “Destroy the unbelievers and polytheists, your (Allah’s) enemies and the enemies of the religion. Allah, count them and kill them up to the very last of them. And do not spare a single one.”
In short, Wilders is charged with stating facts about Islam and its adherents; drawing logical conclusions from, and forming opinions based reasonably on, those facts; correctly quoting the Koran; and making a film that shows actual imams doing actual preaching and that shows other Muslims expressing violently hateful opinions about Western liberties, gays, Jews, and so forth. And for having done these things, Wilders is deemed by the public prosecutor to have offended Muslims and incited hatred and discrimination against Muslims and other non-Western immigrants, and thereby to have committed serious crimes punishable under the laws of the Netherlands.
In fact, all that Wilders has done is expose vital truths about a dangerous ideology. The bottom line is clear: in the Netherlands today, it’s not an offense to incite violence in the name of Islam against gays, Jews, and infidel women, but it is an offense to draw public attention to these incitements of violence. We are supposed to pretend not to know what the most devout members of a certain religion believe, what they say among themselves, and what they want to attain. What we are witnessing here is an upside-down world—an Orwellian nightmare come to life.
Wilder’s trial—the event today is a pretrial hearing—has been in the offing a long time. It was first announced a year ago. And yet one still finds oneself staring in disbelief at this list of charges, this document that embodies the Netherlands’ surrender of its freedoms in the name of an illusory domestic social harmony. In recent years, in the Netherlands’ major cities, young Muslim gangsters have acted with increasing frequency and aggression, incited by Islamist leaders to brutality against gays, Jews, and infidel women. And in response to this atrocious situation, increasing numbers of Dutch families have begun emigrating to places like Canada and Australia (American immigration laws make it more difficult for them to move to the U.S.); gays have begun fleeing cities like Amsterdam for smaller towns; Jews are checking out and moving to Israel. The land of Erasmus is headed into a future that looks more and more like something out of a dystopian novel. Yet instead of focusing on these alarming developments, the Dutch justice system has chosen to go after Wilders, whose only offense is shining a light on them.
A Dark Day for the Enlightenment by Bruce Bawer, City Journal 20 January 2010
Bruce Bawer is the author of Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom. He blogs at brucebawer.com.