Geert Wilders, criticism and Islam


Only days after the Australian Government granted a visa for Dutch PM Geert Wilders to enter the country, Islamic leaders have called for Wilders’ visa to be revoked.

The Daily Telegraph reported today that Samier Dandan, the president of the Lebanese Muslim Association “warned Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week that Mr Wilders’ upcoming visit could cause ill will within the Islamic community at a time when co-operation is needed to tackle extremism.”

Dandan “warned the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull”? How is this “warning” to be taken? It is the kind warning I would expect from an underworld kingpin.

Geert Wilders has of course become famous for his criticism of Islam. Which is not really surprising after his fellow countryman, film maker Theo van Gough was brutally murdered in 2004 an Islamically motivated attack because he dared to expose the prevalence of violence perpetrated against women in several Islamic societies.

It is violence that Geert Wilders is critical of, and it is his criticism of Islamically motivated violence that has attacked the dubious and misleading ‘far right’ label.

Geert Wilders knows the threat of Islamically motivated violence in a very personal way. Wilders’ criticism of Islamic violence has apparently invited a constant stream of death threats, and means that Wilders himself is deprived of a personal life and needs to live in his own personal prison to prevent him from being killed. Wilders must live under 24 hour armed protection. Every day. For about the last 10 years.

Geert Wilders has been painted in the headlines as “too dangerous to come to Australia”. Yet Wilders has not harmed anyone, nor has he made any threats to harm anyone, least of all Muslims. Yet it is he who lives with perpetual threats against his life.

Samier Dandan, the president of the Lebanese Muslim Association should not be asking for Geert Wilders’ visa to be revoked. He should instead be condemning the constant threats against Wilders life made by his co-religionists.

What a lack of perspective we have if people like Geert Wilders who values things like freedom – chiefly the freedom not to be killed or threatened with murder, the freedom to choose one’s religion without imposition, and the freedom to critically evaluate ideas.

It is that critical evaluation of ideas that people like Samier Dandan don’t want. You see, any criticism of Islam, no matter how legitimate is perceived as a personal attack, when of course, it is not. Rational and valid critique of Islam (and believe me, there is much to critique) is immediately ruled out and branded as Islamophobia. This is because Islam does not accept criticism, and Mohammed’s own teaching demands that criticism of Islam cannot be accepted. It is precisely this mindset that Samier Dandan and others are operating from.

If Samier Dandan was interested in avoiding provocation of violence and community division, he would be critical of the violence committed in the name of, and mandated under Islam. And he would be critical of the Muslims who threaten the lives of people including Geert Wilders. And he would lament the fact that Wilders is forced to live under constant protection from armed bodyguards and in a personal prision, because people who share Dandan’s religion are trying to get Geert dead.