February 2009, British Government did the right thing. They did not allow Geert Wilders to come on British soil in order to spread his venomous ideas under the umbrella of the anti-European UKIP party.
Blocking an elected representative from a befriended country is indeed exceptional. But in my view, British Government set an example of integrity, ashaming Dutch Parliament, that allows a no-membership "party" to agitate on racial issues. Most parties in Holland, exception made for the left liberal D66 group as well as for the "Green-Left", are stuck like rabbits in the headlights of a Mercedes, not knowing what to do about this utterly un-Dutch Wilders movement.
Wilders is jubilating
The London Immigration Court, in condemning yesterday the UK Government decision concerning Wilders' dangerous upsetting of public order, put itself on the accommodating Chamberlain (1938) line. I hope that the UK Government will oppose that decision and continue in a more Churchillian line, blocking continental follies and preserving democracy and humanism in Europe as a whole.
But, for the moment, Wilders is jubilating. "Esther", editor of "Islam in Europe", gives Wilders full steam, in citing The Guardian:
The far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders intends to travel to London next week after an immigration tribunal ruling overturned a ban on visiting Britain.
The Home Office said it was disappointed after the tribunal rejected its claim that his presence could "inflame community tensions and lead to inter-faith violence".
The Freedom party leader immediately announced his intention to meet Ukip's Lord Pearson of Rannoch to discuss a showing of his anti-Islamic film Fitna later this month in the House of Lords.
Judge CMG Ockelton, who chaired the tribunal, said that Wilders's opinions were expressed strongly and in a way that was bound to cause offence but that the right of freedom of expression was important in a democratic society.
"Substantial evidence of actual harm would be needed before it would be proper for a government to prevent the expression and discussion of matters that might form the opinions of legislators, policy makers and voters," he said.
The ruling said there had been no evidence of public order problems or damage to community relations as a result of a previous visit by Wilders to Britain.
"It was more important to allow free speech than to take restrictive action speculatively," said Ockelton.
The judgment goes further, saying that even if there were evidence that Wilders posed a threat to public order it would still not have been necessary to ban him because the police would have been able to ensure no disorder took place and remove him if there was trouble.
The decision to ban Wilders was taken under regulations introduced in 2006 which allow the exclusion of those who represent "a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society".
Wilders, who faces trial in the Netherlands for discrimination and inciting hatred, was turned back at Heathrow in February when the then home secretary, Jacqui Smith, banned him from entering Britain. He had been coming for a screening in the Lords of his film which calls the Qur'an a "fascist book". Smith said his presence had the potential to "threaten community harmony and therefore public safety".
Wilders said the ruling was a victory for freedom of expression and claimed Smith's decision had been politically motivated.
The politician was represented in the case by a British Muslim barrister, Arfan Khan, and the costs of just under £10,000 were funded by the Birkenhead Society, which "encourages free speech" and marks British Empire Memorial Day.
The Home Office said it would decide whether to appeal in due course.
The problem is Dutch, and, more specifically, political, not juridical
The weak and accommodating stand of the Dutch parliamentarian majority does not help at all. In January 2010 an Amsterdam high court, on its own initiative, will decide, if Wilders' actions are "hate-mongering" or not. This is a task, Parliament itself should have undertaken. The Social-Democrats, labeled by Wilders as "Sharia-Socialists", should have taken him to court immediately. For Wilders stated unambiguously in his "Fitna" movie, that in his view, the Sharia is fascist.
But no mainstream political party in Holland dares to move. With the Christian Democrat main Government Party it is still worse: It keeps open the possibility of governing with the undemocratic Wilders club.
The debilitating consequences of letting an odd maverick steal the elections
Wilders participated in the June European elections. Only to send a delegation to Strasbourg and Brussels, that has no mission at all. He stole a third of the Dutch representation in the EP, weakening the impact of his country on crucial European issues, crucial for the Netherlands, too, only to cash the money that he cannot have from membership fees, as his "party" has no members except himself.
Like all developed EU-members, Holland should make democratic rules for the internal organization and the financing of parties allowed to participate in the vote. Minister of the Interior Guusje Ter Horst has done nothing, so far. Wilders is getting money from neo conservative sources in the US. He could upset the whole European process, like the Irish tycoon Decan X did last year, provoking an Irish "No" to the Lisbon Treaty. I am sad at the idea, that Holland could be mobilized against the European construction, like Chechia, Poland, and other American-sponsored entities are.
To conclude: Of Course, the final solution of the Dutch identity crisis is not with a London Court. Dutch democratic, anti-authoritarian, traditions should be mobilized against the populist danger.
But, who dares to face the challenge in the Low Countries?