Despite Ban, Dutch Lawmaker Vows to Visit 'Cowardly' Britain
by Joseph Abrams
Dutch politician Geert Wilders says he's flying to Great Britain despite a government order banning him from entering the country, and he's daring the "weak and cowardly" British government to arrest him when he gets there.
"I'll see what happens at the border. Let them put me in handcuffs," Wilders told Radio Netherlands in an interview Wednesday.
The right-wing lawmaker was invited by a member of Parliament to show his anti-Islam movie "Fitna," which calls the Koran a "fascist" book and accuses Islam of being a violent religion. He was told by the British Embassy in a letter Tuesday that he could not set foot in the country.
Britain's Home Office would not comment specifically on the ban, but it said it "opposes extremism in all its forms" and would work to "stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country."
Wilders, whose Freedom Party holds nine of the 120 seats in the Dutch Parliament, said he received the British embassy told him his exclusion would be legal if "justified on grounds of public policy and/or public security."
The 45-year-old lawmaker said he was bewildered by the ban.
"Threat to society? I'm an elected member of Parliament; I have done nothing wrong," he told Dutch radio. "I'm a normal, law-abiding democrat. You might agree or disagree with my political point of view, but I'm no threat to anyone."
He may be a threat to himself, though. Wilders has received numerous death threats, and he lives under constant guard in the Netherlands, where filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in 2004 for making a movie critical of Islam.
Wilders' own film has sparked Muslim protests around the world. The state of Jordan has requested his extradition to face charges of blasphemy, and at home he is being prosecuted for hate speech — a charge he is appealing to his country's Supreme Court.
His lawyers say he is the target of an effort to block free speech about radical Islam, and that the only hate speech in the movie comes from the preachers and texts it is documenting.
"I think it's ironic the majority of [his film] is composed of quotes from the Koran and scenes of radical imams preaching death to the Jews and death to infidels" said Brooke Goldstein, a human rights attorney with the Legal Project, which is providing Wilders free legal aid from the United States.
Lord Malcolm Pearson, who invited Wilders to address Parliament, criticized his country for its decision.
"I was very surprised the British government should have become so weak and useless that it denies a European member of parliament the right to free speech in the mother of parliaments," Pearson told Dutch Radio.
FOXNews.com's Joseph Abrams contributed to this report.
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