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The attempted silencing of Geert Wilders endangers free speech in Europe

I recently wrote a piece on how the West’s attitude to free speech is deeply worrying. Whilst reasonable and democratic discussions are silenced, obscenity is not only displayed openly, but it is done with a perverse sense of pride.

Yesterday’s news from Holland vindicates my assessment. Long-time opponent of political Islam, Geert Wilders was just convicted of ‘hate speech’ because he voiced the concerns of many Dutch people that their small country has a disproportionally high number of Moroccans who do not respect Dutch traditions and culture.

The remarks were made in 2014 which demonstrates just how long drawn-out the process has been, a process which should have never been started in the first place.

The idea that Wilders should be silenced is testament to the fact that European countries have no leg to stand on when lecturing others about democracy. The Party of Freedom which Wilders leads has seen rapid growth in recent years. Many recent polls have found that the Party of Freedom will continue to grow and could represent a potent democratic force in the Dutch elections to be held in March of next year.

Wilders is the kind of politician that free speech laws are designed to protect. For years, he has warned of the dangers that un-reconstructed political Islam poses to secular societies. The continued growth of political Islam in countries like Holland is deeply worrying to many of its people, including older generations of immigrants.

I personally depart from Wilders in his characterisation of Islamic theology as dangerous. I find certain extremist, medievalist trends in Sunni Islam, originating from the Gulf, to be the problem. The export of Wahhabism to Europe is indeed a breeding ground for civil strife. The practice of Wahhabist Sunni Islam should be banned throughout Europe, just as surely as it is detested in Arab countries like Syria, Egypt, much of Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.

This of course isn’t the only area in which I disagree with Wilders. For all of his conservative talk of preserving Dutch culture, his vision of Dutch culture is one of classical liberalism, a cosmopolitan ideology which itself puts countries on the road to post-cultural oblivion.

But even if one disagrees with Wilders, so long as the Netherlands pretends to be a democracy, he ought to be able to voice the views of his constituents without fear of prosecution or persecution. When politicians like Wilders are held hostage by the neo-liberal political culture which holds Europe in its grip, it is little wonder that political Islam has become a potent political force. The shame lies with those haranguing Wilders and his supporters.

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