This morning Lord Malcolm Pearson, a member of the British House of Lords, announced that he has invited Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch Parliament, to show the movie Fitna (see it here) in a committee room of the House of Lords next Thursday (12 February). Mr. Wilders has been asked to address a private meeting with members of the British Parliament, explaining to the Peers and MPs why he made Fitna and to engage in an open and frank discussion with them.
This afternoon Mr. Wilders received a letter from the British Embassy in The Hague [see below] saying that he is a “persona non grata” in the United Kingdom. The ambassador told Mr. Wilders that he is a threat to public security and public harmony because of the controversy created by Fitna. Mr. Wilders intends to go to London anyway. “Let them arrest me in Heathrow,” he says.
If Mr. Wilders is denied entry to the United Kingdom, it will be the first time that Britain refuses entry to an elected politician from another member state of the European Union. The Dutch government has protested to the British government over the unprecedented barring of an EU parliamentarian by another EU country.
The meeting of Mr. Wilders and members of the British Parliament had originally been planned for 29 January, but was postponed. Lord Nazir Ahmed, a Muslim member of the House of Lords (Labour), had threatened to mobilize 10,000 Muslims to prevent Mr. Wilders from entering the British Parliament. Lord Ahmed boasted in the Pakistani press that the cancellation of Mr. Wilders’ visit was “a victory for the Muslim community.”
Lord Pearson could not bear the thought that the “mother of all parliaments” might be perceived as giving in to threats. Hence he decided to reinvite Mr. Wilders. Black Rod, the head of security at the House of Lords, has ordered extra security for the event.
The House of Lords event is hosted by Lord Malcolm Pearson of Rannoch, a UKIP Peer with a special interest in the European Union, Islamism and education. It will be chaired by Baroness Caroline Cox of Queensbury, a crossbench Peer and a human rights campaigner with a strong commitment to humanitarian aid and education; she is the founder of The International Islamic Christian Organisation for Reconciliation and Reconstruction.
In the press release issued this morning, Lord Pearson writes:
Depite threats of demonstration from a British Peer and Muslim community leaders, the meeting will go ahead. Wilders’ film Fitna features verses from the Quran alongside images of the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. The film equates Islam’s holy text with violence and ends with a call to Muslims to remove ‘hate preaching’ verses from the Quran. It provoked protests in Muslim-majority countries including Indonesia and Pakistan.
The leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, Wilders has lived under 24 hour police protection since 2004. Following Fitna’s release online in March 2008 al-Qaeda issued a fatwa calling for Wilders’ murder.
Wilders currently faces prosecution in Holland for incitement to hatred and discrimination. The charges are based on his film Fitna and comments in the Dutch press last year in which he argued that as Mein Kampf has been banned in Holland, the Quran should similarly be banned under Dutch incitement laws.
Wilders called the Dutch Court of Appeal’s decision to prosecute an attack on freedom of expression. “Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted,” he said.
It seems that in Britain the public debate has already been smothered to the extent that a democratically elected politician from another EU country is not allowed to come to Britain to adress a private meeting with British politicians in the Palace of Westminster.
The British letter to Geert Wilders:
Dear Mr Wilders:
The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the Secretary of State is of the view that your presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society. The Secretary of State is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK.
You are advised that should you travel to the UK and seek admission an Immigration Officer will take into account the Secretary of State's view. If, in accordance with regulation 21 of the immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, the Immigration Officer is statisfied that your exclusion is justified on grounds of public policy and/or public security, you will be refused admission to the UK under regulation 19. You would have a right of appeal against any refusal of admission, exercisable from outside the UK.
Irving N. Jones
On behalf of the Secretary of State for the Home Department