Europe’s War on Free Speech
The Geert Wilders case is only one of many that should warn Americans of the perils of complacency.
The Amsterdam Court of Appeals has ordered the criminal prosecution of a Dutch member of parliament for criticizing Islam. The court’s ruling overturns a previous decision by Dutch public prosecutors, who had determined that there was not enough evidence to charge Geert Wilders, leader of the conservative Freedom Party, for hate crimes after he produced a hard-hitting film that says Islam promotes violence.
In a written judgment, the appeals court said that “by attacking the symbols of the Muslim religion, [Wilders] also insulted Muslim believers.”
The ruling will please the Dutch Muslim immigrant groups who asked the appeals court to force the justice department to prosecute Wilders for expressing his opinions. But many others say the prosecution is an alarming attack on free speech by politically correct activist judges who are trying to silence criticism of the growing power of Islam in Europe.
Wilders, who frequently speaks out against the “Islamization” of the Netherlands, said “the judgment of the court [is] an attack on the freedom of expression. … Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted. … Who will stand up for our culture if I am silenced?”
Of course, Wilders is only the latest in a line of Dutch citizens who have run afoul of the pro-Muslim thought police in post-Christian Holland. In 2002, Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated for his views on Islam and Muslim immigration. In 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was stabbed to death for producing a movie that criticized Islam. In 2006, former Dutch lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali was forced to flee the country after criticizing the mistreatment of women in Islamic societies.
What makes the Wilders case different, however, is that the Dutch state itself is now caving in to pressure from Muslim immigrants who seek to criminalize any opinions that could be deemed to insult Islam or criticize Muslim immigration.
But Holland is not the only European country at war with the exercise of free speech. In Austria, for example, MP Susanne Winter was convicted for the “crime” of saying that “in today’s system” the Prophet Muhammad would be considered a “child molester,” referring to his marriage to a six-year-old child. She was also convicted for “incitement” for warning that Austria faces an “Islamic immigration tsunami.”