Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Geert Wilders going to Australia
PHOTO: When Mr Wilders travels, he can need as much security as a US president. (Marcel Antonisse: Reuters)
Controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders is coming to Australia with the support of senior Liberal senator Cory Bernardi.
Mr Wilders, who controls the balance of power in the Netherlands' parliament, has outraged Dutch Muslims by comparing the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf and calling the Prophet Muhammad a paedophile.
In a statement to Foreign Correspondent, Senator Bernardi confirmed he has offered to help arrange meetings and a schedule for Mr Wilders in Australia.
"I hope to be able within ... this year, or maybe the beginning of next year, to visit Australia," Mr Wilders said.
"I met one of your senators, Senator Cory Bernardi, not so long ago. He invited me to help him at least when I would visit Australia, and I will certainly do that as soon as I can.
"We all face immigration also from people from Islamic countries. We all see that, for instance, that is something that Senator Bernardi and now I believe also others in Australia is fighting against."
Senator Bernardi's approach is in marked contrast to Britain, where in 2009 the home secretary tried to ban Mr Wilders as an undesirable person.
When Mr Wilders travels, he can need as much security as a US president. On a visit to Berlin, police had three cordons to keep back Muslim and anti-rightist protesters.
Mr Wilders has received several death threats from militant Islamists over his attacks on Islam, but he was unrepentant when ABC1's Foreign Correspondent interviewed him in Amsterdam.
"I see Islam as more ideology than a religion. It's not to be compared with Christianity or Judaism, it's more compared with other totalitarian ideologies, like communism or fascism," he said.
Mr Wilders's attacks on Islam have struck a chord in the Netherlands, where tolerance of different cultures has steadily eroded since 9/11.
Last year, his Freedom Party won 15 per cent of the vote giving him enough seats to install a minority right-wing government that has declared an end to multiculturalism.
In June, Mr Wilders beat a prosecution under hate laws; the court ruled his remarks on Islam were offensive and hurtful but legal.
For more on this story, watch Foreign Correspondent tonight, ABC1 at 8pm.
Topics: government-and-politics, world-politics, community-and-society, religion-and-beliefs, islam, people, australia,sa, netherlands