Free Speech

Rules for Radicals: UK Edition

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More shameful behavior in response to the "threat" of radical Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, this time from the increasingly illiberal government of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Yesterday I noted that a Foreign Office employee was arrested after denouncing the "fucking Jews" in his local gym; now the Home Department has forbidden Wilders from entering the UK because he would "threaten community harmony and therefore public security."

I have previously criticized Wilders monochromatic view of Islam here and here (while defending his free speech rights, obviously), but his opinions on religious extremism are rather beside the point. One wonders if Christopher Hitchens, a Briton who has typically describes the devout (Muslims, Christians and Jews) as cranks and charlatans, will be allowed back to the land of his birth.

But what really rankles is the kid gloves with which lunatic Islamists are treated, while radical anti-Muslims like Wilders are denounced as agents of intolerance. And again, I believe Wilders impressions of Islam to be reductionist and, I would imagine, deeply offensive to that great majority of Muslims who do not condone or engage in violence. But let us recall that London's former Mayor Ken Livingston invited—and publicly embraced—Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a "moderate" preacher who advocates the killing of pregnant Israeli women, gays, Americans, and all other sinister kafirs, to discuss how we can all just hold hands, sing "Up with People," and dance around rainbows. When human rights and gay rights groups protested, Livingstone sputtered that his critics were spreading "lies and Islamophobia." Al-Qawadari, he explained, desires the spread of mutual respect, such as when he recently told an audience that "Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler."

Or how about the producers of the television documentary Undercover Mosque, broadcast on Britain's independent Channel 4, who caught spittle-flecked religious leaders advising followers to "kill" the "animal" gays of Britain and to "Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain." As a result, the West Midlands Police ended up investigating the documentary producers, stating that it was "The priority for police has been to investigate the documentary and its making with as much rigour as the extremism the programme sought to portray." They found no evidence of malicious documentary-making. 

Here is the text of the letter Wilders received from Britain's ambassador to the Netherlands, via John Derbyshire (a Brit who rightly calls the decision to ban Wilders "a terrible defeat for liberty"):

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 satisfied 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.

Yours sincerely,

Irving N. Jones

On behalf of the Secretary of State for the Home Department