Ed Husain: Geert Wilders <i>should not</i> have been banned

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Geert Wilders should be allowed in because this is a country that has pioneered freedom of speech, from Milton and Locke through to Mill.

We have a strong, resilient society that is capable of tolerating debate without losing its temper or making personal attacks on those who are deemed offensive. When I debated Ayaan Hirsi Ali [the Dutch feminist and critic of Islam] last year, it was a civilised affair with powerful arguments on both sides and we need that sort of debate, if only to illustrate that Muslim communities are an asset to wider society.

Tolerant Muslims must be allowed to show we have the strength of our convictions and are allowed to handle criticism in a robust way, just as any other community would. We have to show people Muslims aren't just the most sensitive, the most aggressive, the most critical community; rather we're very prepared to take on these debates and win.

Mr Wilders has been invited over here by Lords and Ladies who have, to put it mildly, an anti-Muslim stance. They want to flare up divisions and show that Muslims are an aggressive bunch who won't tolerate free speech. By using Mr Wilders as a holy cow to demonstrate their point, they've achieved exactly what they set out to do. Lord Ahmed, a third-generation immigrant, might have various complexes but his message is all wrong. Drop the ban and start the debate. Bring it on!

Ed Husain wrote The Islamist, an account of his five years as aradical Islamist

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