Dutch MP will ignore UK ban over Islamic film

Sam Marsden,Paula Fentiman,Press Association
Wednesday 11 February 2009 18:42

A right-wing Dutch politician banned from visiting the UK over his anti-Islam views vowed today that he would come anyway.

Geert Wilders was due to show his 17-minute film Fitna, which criticises the Koran as a "fascist book", at the House of Lords tomorrow.

But he said he received a letter from the Home Office refusing him entry to Britain because his opinions "threaten community security and therefore public security" in the UK.

Mr Wilders, a member of Holland's Freedom Party, told the BBC he still planned to fly into Heathrow Airport early tomorrow afternoon, adding: "Let's see what will happen."

He went on: "I was very surprised and very saddened that the freedom of speech that I believe was a very strong point in UK society is being harassed today."

Mr Wilders has urged the Dutch government to ban the Koran and warned of a "tsunami" of Islam swamping the Netherlands.

His film sparked violent protests around the Muslim world last year for linking verses in the religious text with footage of terrorist attacks.

He has launched an appeal against an Amsterdam court's order that he should be prosecuted for hate speech.

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said the Dutch government would press for a reversal of the travel ban.

UK Independence Party peer Lord Pearson, who invited Mr Wilders to Britain, said the screening of the film would go ahead tomorrow.

In a joint statement he and cross-bench peer Baroness Cox said they were "promoting freedom of speech" and accused the Government of "appeasing" militant Islam.

They added: "Geert Wilder's Fitna film, available on the web, is not a threat to anyone.

"It merely suggests how the Koran has been used by militant Islamists to promote and justify their violence.

"They react in fury and menace to our intention to show the film and have boasted that their threats of aggressive demonstrations prevented its previous showing in the Mother of Parliaments.

"This was not the case - the event was postponed to clarify issues of freedom of speech.

"The threat of intimidation in fact increases the justification for the film to be shown and discussed in Parliament and by the British and international press."

Mr Wilders said he had already shown his film to Denmark's parliament and would take it to Italy and the US House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

The Home Office said: "The Government opposes extremism in all its forms.

"It will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country and that was the driving force behind tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour that the Home Secretary announced in October last year."

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