Next Sunday, Christians are celebrating the feast of Pentecost. A Protestant church in the Netherlands is using the occasion to propose the abolishment of the public holiday for the second day of Pentecost. The Dutch have officially been enjoying this holiday since 1815, but the church wants it replaced by an official holiday on Eid-al-Fitr, the day marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
With its proposal, the Christian group says, it wants "to do justice to diversity in religion." That is politically-correct claptrap. Browsing through today's papers, I can, however, understand why many Dutch are in a festive mood once Ramadan is over! These days, the headlines are full of incidents, which De Telegraaf, the leading newspaper in the Netherlands, describes as Ramadan rellen (Ramadan riots).
Suppose Christians would, on an annual basis, start to riot after leaving church on Pentecost and demolish property, arson cars, attack police, throw stones through the neighbor's windows. Suppose the police would feel obliged to mark the Christian Lent in the calendar as days of heightened tensions. Would we not begin to wonder whether there was something wrong with Christianity?
Or suppose Jewish gangs would terrorize entire town districts on Yom Kippur day. Would we not beginning to wonder what they were being taught in their synagogues? Or would we just accept it, celebrate it even, as indications of the cultural "diversity" of our society?
I am writing these lines in my office in the Dutch Parliament in The Hague, barely a few minutes away from the house where the great 17th century Dutch and Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza lived and died. Spinoza gave the world a philosophy of tolerance and freedom.
However, what we must never do is be tolerant to intolerance. Because if tolerance becomes a snake devouring its own tail, soon there will be no freedom left and the intolerant will rule the world. Indeed, we are almost there. Three and a half centuries after Spinoza, in the city where he lived, I am writing these lines in a heavily protected sector of the parliament building. The windows are blinded, the doors are armored, and police officers are standing watch outside. They are there to protect me against the intolerance which has in recent decades entered our country – an intolerance that is neither Christian nor Jewish or secular, but Islamic. I am not an extremist if I say that. I am telling the truth. And that is my duty.
For here is the crux of the matter: If we want to remain the free and tolerant society which we used to be, we must realize that the West has a concrete identity. Our identity is not Islamic, but based on Judaism, Christianity and humanism. Our freedoms result from this identity. By depriving Islam of the means to destroy our identity, we are not violating freedom; we are preserving our identity and guaranteeing freedom.
The terrible situation we are in today is caused by our tolerance of evil. We are too tolerant to intolerance, we are too tolerant to Islam. We think that by allowing freedom to the enemies of freedom we prove to the world that we stand for freedom. But in reality, by refusing to draw boundaries to our tolerance, we are handing away our freedom.
We live in an age where people like the idea of rights, so long as they do not have to pay a price for it. The political and media elites are all in favor of speaking the truth, so long as the "truth" is a cliché. But when duty and honor command them to stand athwart history and yell "Stop!" they flee. And those who do their duty are called extremists, dragged to court, silenced.
Earlier today, I learned that the Dutch Public Prosecutor in The Hague is investigating a speech which, two years ago, I gave in Vienna, Austria. He is doing this at the request of his colleague, the Public Prosecutor in Vienna, who accuses me of Verhetzung (incitement). The latter is a criminal offense in Austria and is comparable to incitement.
I find this truly unbelievable. Let them catch bandits and terrorists instead of prosecuting a politician for speaking about Islam. It is a disgrace that this is happening in the city of Spinoza, who was not only a great defender of tolerance but also of freedom of thought and speech. Spinoza's face used to adorn one of our bank notes in the time when we still had our own currency. Too bad that this is no longer the case today.
Unbelievable also because it would be the third time in a few years that I would be prosecuted for saying things the elites do not want to hear. It is a legal jihad. While the elites are to blame for the existential crisis we are currently in. With their open border-policies and unprecedented love for Islam and their cultural relativism, they sell us out completely and put our freedom and security at stake. They have abandoned the legacy of Spinoza and introduced the totalitarianism of Mohammedanism in our nations. I say: no more. It is time to do our duty and defend our freedom and the freedom of our children.
Geert Wilders on March 8, 2017 in Breda, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Geert Wilders MP is leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) in The Netherlands.