On that day the Amsterdam Court of Appeal overturned the decision of a lower court, which last year had found Geert Wilders, the controversial member of the Dutch parliament, not guilty of hate speech. This lower court acknowledged that some of his statements may be offensive but they contributed to a social debate that did not give cause for criminal prosecution.
The Court of Appeal’s reasoning for overturning this decision is a jumble of contradictions and doubletalk that brings to mind the newspeak of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The Court gives three reasons for its decision.
1984 is Now One, Wilders’ views, including the message of his short film Fitna, in style and substance are ”characterized by biased, strongly generalizing phrasings with a radical meaning, ongoing reiteration and an increasing intensity, as a result of which hate is created...” Wilders has indeed insulted Islamic worshipers by attacking the symbols of their belief.
Two, the Court finds that a possible criminal prosecution or conviction is admissible according to the norms of European jurisprudence, which at the same time “considers the freedom of expression of paramount importance.”
Then follows another sentence that is convoluted and without any sense because it is self-contradictory. It says that this Court has concluded that prosecution is warranted, “ provided that it is proportionate, does not necessarily conflict with the freedom of expression of Wilders, since statements which create hate and grief made by politicians, taken their special responsibility into consideration, are not permitted according to European standards either.”
Three, the Court finds that criminal prosecution is opportune in the Dutch situation because “the instigation of hatred in a democratic society constitutes such a serious matter that a general interest is at stake in order to draw a clear boundary in the public debate.”
The Court explains that the Dutch culture of public debate is based on tolerance of opposing views, while Islamic immigrants may be expected to have consideration for the existing sentiments among the Dutch for their (Islamic) belief, “which is partly at odds with Dutch and European values and norms.”
Instead of calling for Muslims to appreciate and respect the Dutch culture, the Court then reiterates its opinion that prosecution of Wilders is warranted because he compared radical Islam with Nazism, which is contrary to the general interest of society.
Here is a clear case of language that lacks any kind of rhetorical firmness and clarity. George Orwell was perceptive when he showed that the destruction of freedom goes hand in hand with the corruption of language. Then words are used not to communicate truth but to hide it with hollow words that say the very opposite to what is real.
Truth is Irrelevant The Court does not concern itself with the truth of Wilders’ opinions, but with the claims of radical Islamists that their religion has been insulted, which in the eyes of many Muslims calls for the death penalty. Wilders has received many such threats, which in normal times would result in prosecution of those who issue such threats.
But these are not normal times, and though he is a member of the Dutch parliament, leader of the nine-member Freedom Party (VVD), he is forced to live like a fugitive, under 24 hours-a-day police protection, forced to move from place to place and deprived of all the normal benefits of citizenship in a free society.
He has a number of law suits pending, including one by an imam who is demanding damages of 55.000 Euros for his hurt feelings. The state of Jordan has requested that Wilders be extradited and tried in a Jordanian court for blaspheming Islam. Now Wilders no longer travels outside the country unless he receives assurance from the government of the country to be visited that he will not be charged or extradited.
His invitation from the British House of Lords to discuss his film was withdrawn after the Muslim Lord Ahmed is reported to have threatened to mobilize 10,000 Muslims to prevent Wilders from entering the House. The Secretary-General of the UN condemned the airing of Fitna in the strongest terms. He said that “there is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence.” The irony is that this is exactly the point of Wilders’ position.
The bitter reality is that the persecution of this member of the Dutch parliament now living under a death threat proves the truth of his contention that radial Islam is incompatible with Western democracy.
Wilders’ unpardonable sin is that he insists on taking the Islamists at their words. He has simply stated the obvious. His brief film Fitna, though in a provocative way, quotes some of the warlike verses of the Koran and shows images of 9/11 and other terrorist attacks. It also has clips of angry demonstrators shouting the praise of Allah while calling for the death of infidels.
In the Netherlands crowds have shouted an especially revolting expression of Jew-hatred: “Hamas, Hamas, Joden aan het gas” ( Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to the gas). Last October, a Muslim radical with a long police record attacked two police officers in Amsterdam. One of the officers nearly died; the attacker was shot. This event touched off days of rioting and car burning, but the Dutch press avoided any mention of Islamic radicalism
The United Nations: No Friend of Freedom While such demonstrations are taking place in many parts of the world, the Islamic bloc at the United Nations is busy furthering the Islamization of the West. In 1990, the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.
While it pays lip service to the freedom of all people, it makes very clear that all rights and laws are to be interpreted and applied in accordance with Islamic law. For example, article 24 states: “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.”
The OIC, now the largest voting bloc, is determined to use the UN as the wedge to silence all critics of Islam. Since 2005 the General Assembly has passed a so-called anti-defamation resolution, which until now has been non-binding. The OIC has begun a campaign to have the UN adopt a binding resolution, which in effect would criminalize all criticism of Islam.
Last year the UN Human Rights Council - including China, Angola, Cuba and Saudi Arabia - adopted a resolution that moved a step closer to such criminalization. It decided to mandate the Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Expression not only to report violations of this freedom but also to include cases in which that freedom is “abused.” Such “abuse” will include all criticism of Islam.
As the Canadian delegation noted: “instead of promoting freedom of expression the Special Rapporteur would be policing its exercise.” It is clear that the backers of this anti-defamation resolution want to silence all critics of Islam. Why have the delegations of the free nations not opposed this move in clear and unmistakable ways?
Only recently did the French ambassador on behalf of the European Union warn that the EU would not accept such a resolution which in fact would destroy the freedom of expression. But most of the Western UN members failed to condemn this attempt to silence the critics of Islam. Although the Canadian representative protested against this resolution, in the end Canada abstained rather than vote against it. The U.S. also abstained.
The next battle lines are now being drawn in preparation for he forthcoming 2009 Durban Review Conference (Durban II). This UN World Conference Against Racism shows all the signs of a repeat performance of Durban I, which in fact became a platform for vicious anti-Israel and pro-Islam propaganda. One of its agenda points will be a recommendation that the UN make defamation of Islam a criminal offence and thus no longer allowed under the “pretext of freedom of religion, counter terrorism or national security.”
That the UN has degenerated into a nest of scheming power blocs mostly tilted against the Western democracies, is bad enough. But that those very same democracies allow their own legislative and judiciary institutions to silence the critics of radical Islam is beyond belief.
The case of Geert Wilders is especially reprehensible, but the same thing is happening in England, France, Germany, Belgium, the U.S, Canada, and elsewhere. The biggest challenge is to distinguish truth from falsehood. Not a bad rule of thumb is to be very suspicious of the ruling majority, especially if they belong to the herd of the politically correct.