Islam versus freedom of expression in the Netherlands, Re: Dutch MP on trial for ‘hate speech’, Al Jazeera English, January 22, 2010

When the final verdict comes down in the trial of Geert Wilders it will be a watershed moment in the history of western civilization. Mr. Wilders is being charged with inciting discrimination and hatred towards Muslims. Each charge carries a penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 19,000 euros.

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If he is found innocent it will be an affirmation that freedom of expression, free speech in this case, is a vital requirement of an open, secular, democratic society and that anyone or anything can be exposed, criticized, ridiculed, satirized or even skewered. Nothing can be out of bounds, including Islam, the Quran and Islamic figures past and present (even the Prophet Muhammad) because if limits are placed on what is acceptable freedom of expression no longer exists. An innocent verdict also affirms that exposing, criticizing, ridiculing, satirizing or skewering someone or something is not ipso facto an incitement to discrimination or hatred-it is holding a point of view and making it known to others, which individuals in a free society have every right to do.

An innocent verdict means that freedom of expression remains alive in Holland. It also means that attempts to undermine and remove it via the courts in other European countries will be far less likely to succeed because of the precedent that has been set. Democratic nations everywhere else will take notice as well.

Conversely, a guilty verdict means that the Dutch can no longer call themselves a free people because they will have lost the ability to mention Islam or the Islamization of their society except in the most innocuous way for fear of being hauled before the courts. Terrible as that is, it’s only the beginning. If it is not permissible to expose, criticize, ridicule, satirize or skewer Islam or Islamization pretty soon it won’t be permissible to do the same to anything else either. Speaking out about anyone or anything will be construed as inciting discrimination and hatred….after all, if the law applies to Muslims and Islam it applies to everyone and everything else too. The light of freedom in the Netherlands will be well and truly extinguished then. After that the rest of Europe could easily follow. Precedents mean a great deal and the precedent of a guilty verdict will have every bit as much impact as the precedent of an innocent one. That won’t be lost on democratic nations outside the continent either.

Besides the attack on freedom of expression there are two other aspects of this trial which are particularly bothersome. The first is the role that Islamization in Holland, and by extension the rest of Europe, has played in it and the second is the implicit idea that truth is not a defense in law-that a person can be charged, convicted and punished even though what they expressed is true.

Islamization in Europe has been disastrous on any number of levels. The impact it has had is clear and very well documented. Without exception, wherever it exists it has led to discord, violence, intolerance, increased crime, self imposed religious ghettos and attempts to change the fundamental nature of host societies. The essence of Islamization is that Muslims insist that their hosts have to change and adapt to them. Their religion and culture is all important and must be preeminent regardless of the consequences. European governments have been very slow to recognize and appreciate the threat it poses to their people’s way of life and have exacerbated the phenomenon by failing to take serious measures to curb it. They have been most accommodating and this accommodation of Muslims and Islam no doubt played a significant role in the decision to lay charges in the first place. That is very bothersome indeed and proponents of Islamization must be very encouraged.

So too is the idea that truth is not a defense in law, which of course will be the case if there is a conviction. Not one single thing that Wilders has said is untrue and he is being prosecuted despite this. Put another way, everything that he has expressed is demonstrably true and he is being prosecuted anyway. That threatens to obliterate one of the basic principles western civilization is built on. A guilty verdict would do exactly that. Proponents of Islamization would be more than encouraged if this happened-they would be positively ecstatic.

No, it is not an exaggeration at all to think that it will be a watershed moment in the history of western civilization when the verdict comes down. If the verdict is innocent you will remain free to express yourself on any subject as you see fit. If the verdict is guilty I could be prosecuted for writing an essay like this and you could be prosecuted for agreeing with it and having the temerity to say so.

Best of luck Mr. Wilders, best of luck.

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