Dutch politician's visit sparks Westminster anger

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Indy Politics

Far right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders sparked angry scenes outside Parliament today after claiming Islamism and democracy were "incompatible".

The controversial Dutch politician visited London to show his anti-Islamic film Fitna at the House of Lords.

Around 200 members of the self-styled "counter-jihad" English Defence League (EDL) marched down Millbank in support of Mr Wilders.

Demonstrators, taking part in a counter-protest, chanted "Nazi scum, off our streets" as the EDL supporters gathered outside Parliament but the two groups were kept apart by lines of police officers.

A Met Police spokesman said approximately 50 people, mostly taking part in the counter-protest organised by Unite Against Fascism, were arrested.

EDL members, some of them carrying English flags, chanted: "No surrender to the Taliban.

The 46-year-old Freedom Party leader said: "Islamism and democracy are incompatible.

"The more Islamism we have, the more freedom we will lose and this is something worth fighting for."

He also called for an end to immigration to Europe from Islamic countries but said Muslims who agreed to obey the law of the land would be welcome to stay.

He said: "To Muslims who do stay, I would say 'Follow our laws and you are welcome to stay'."

And he pledged that, if elected Dutch Prime Minister, he would seek to introduce a "first amendment" guaranteeing freedom of speech.

"The right of freedom of speech is especially to listen to someone who is saying something you don't want to hear," he said.

The Freedom Party is expected to do well in the forthcoming Dutch general election.

Last year it came second in the country's European elections and recently topped the poll in local elections in the city of Almere.

Mr Wilders attempted to enter the UK last February but was detained after landing at Heathrow Airport and ordered back to the Netherlands three hours later.

He had been due to show Fitna but then-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said his presence would "threaten community harmony and therefore public safety".

The ban was later quashed and a subsequent visit to Parliament sparked demonstrations by Muslim protesters.

His press conference today was also attended by UK Independence Party leader Lord Pearson and crossbencher Baroness Cox, who invited Mr Wilders to show his film.

Lady Cox said Mr Wilders' visit was a victory for free speech.

She said: "We believe passionately in this country in the freedom of speech. You don't have to agree but it is important to debate sensibly in a responsible and very democratic way."

Mr Wilders said the film and subsequent discussion was attended by around 60 people.

A Home Office spokesman said the Government regretted the decision to invite Mr Wilders to the House of Lords but had no reason to deny him admission to the UK.

He said: "The Government continues to oppose extremism in all its forms and retains the right to refuse foreign nationals, including European Union citizens, access to the UK if we believe they represent a threat to security or our society.

"The behaviour of foreign nationals while in the UK will be taken into consideration when considering granting access to the country in the future."