Geert Wilders, the Dutch parliamentarian/filmmaker who is facing prosecution in the Netherlands and constant death threats for his criticism of Islam, spoke at the National Press Club today and took questions after a screening of his documentary Fitna.
Wilders, who was denied entry to the United Kingdom earlier this month because of his statements about Islam, has been touring the U.S. all week, with stops in Boston, New York City, and Washington. Yesterday, he screened his film in the U.S. Senate at the invitation of Sen. Jon Kyl, and he also met with John Bolton after the former U.N. ambassador’s speech at CPAC.
In remarks at the Press Club this morning, Wilders said that his case was just a part of the broader struggle between Islamic radicalism and the West. Islamists, he said, use hate speech codes to silence criticism of Islam even while they themselves preach hate.
“They can say whatever they want, ‘throw gays from apartment buildings, kill Jews, slaughter the infidel, destroy Israel, jihad against the West,’ whatever their book tells them,” Wilders said. “Ladies and gentleman, make no mistake, my prosecution is a full-fledged attack by the Left on the freedom of speech in order to appease Muslims.”
The major culprit in all of this is the dominance of cultural relativism in Europe, according to Wilders.
“Cultural relativism is a serious and the most dangerous disease in Europe today,” he said. “Most of our politicians in Europe believe that all cultures are equal. Well let me tell you, they are not. Our Western culture, based on Christianity, on Judaism, on Humanism, is in every aspect better than the Islamic culture.”
He compared the struggle against Islamic ideology to the Cold War, and suggested the West needed to face up to reality, as Ronald Reagan did when he called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”
“You cannot runaway from history, you cannot escape the dangers of the ideologies that are out to destroy you,” he said. “Denial is not an option. Islam is the communism of today.”
Wilders’ 17-minute film (which you can watch in its entirety here), shows passages excerpted from the Koran, and intercuts them with hateful sermons from Imams and images of terrorist acts committed by Islamic extremists. He has come under fire for the film as well as for public statements critical of Islam. And his critics have attacked him as hypocritical for calling for a ban of the Koran.
In his defense, he said that this had to be viewed in the Dutch context, a country in which Mein Kampf was banned 20 years ago. His point, he said, is that if that was banned as hateful speech that incited violence, than a similar standard should be applied to the Koran.
Wilders has also proposed that the Netherlands stop accepting new immigrants from Muslim countries becuase of the affect that the explosion of their population has had on the country, and to deport those who commit crimes.
If convicted, he could face up to two years in jail, but he has enlisted a top lawyer in the Netherlands and said he was confident that he would triumph.