FOR a liberal democracy that thrives on liberty, plurality and vigorous political discourse, the visit by controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders to these shores presents an opportunity to reaffirm these fundamental principles. When Mr Wilders was granted a visa last year, then immigration minister Chris Bowen rightly argued that Australian multiculturalism, our political system and our commitment to freedom of speech were strong enough to survive a visit by the Dutch MP.More at Tundra Tabloids, "GEERT WILDERS SPEAKS IN AUSTRALIA, PEOPLE LISTEN…"
Mr Wilders's views on the impact of large-scale Islamic immigration in Europe and the challenge that it presents to established cultures and the obligations of citizenship in Western countries are part of an important debate that Australians should be aware of.
Mr Wilders is the founder and leader of The Netherlands Party for Freedom. His political mission is to halt what he says is the "Islamisation" of his country. He argues that Islamism is a totalitarian political ideology enforced by violence and rigid adherence to it, quite different from the faith of Islam. In his article in The Australian earlier this week, Mr Wilders outlined his views that many will find challenging, but they were respectfully put and hardly deserve the vilification he has received from extremists. Mr Wilders's visit provides Australians with a window into a sociopolitico challenge in the northern hemisphere. How Islam can be absorbed into Western democracies, given the cultural differences between the two, is being debated and discussed in journals such as the centre-left magazine Prospect, where a recent contributor argued: "Islam's accommodation with the liberal-democratic societies of Europe and North America is one of the most urgent questions of our times."
Mr Wilders is welcome here, provided that he abides by the law, as all visitors must. Our laws include prohibiting racial vilification and inciting violence, but there is no suggestion he has come close to violating them. So far, it is his opponents who have displayed the illiberalism they accuse him of. A core duty of citizens in a free society is to welcome debate on contentious subjects. A mature country that is comfortable with its own laws, cultures and traditions would defend the right to express views that some of its citizens may not agree with. Last year, British preacher Taji Mustafa addressed a gathering in Sydney and argued for Islam to be spread throughout Australia, not as a religion but as a system of government. These views are repugnant to most Australians, yet they were allowed to be expressed. Moreover, a group of Muslims marched through the streets of Sydney last year under the black flag of jihad - also the flag of al-Qa'ida - spreading a message of religious hatred. Muslim leaders quickly denounced the vile protests.
While we do not face the same challenges that exist in Europe, flashes of Islamic extremism surface from time to time. The lesson is that our non-discriminatory immigration policy and the continuation of our largely harmonious multi-ethnic society - one of the most diverse in the world - depends on a tolerance for this diversity and a commitment to Australian values. Citizenship is not only about rights; it is also about civic responsibility, whether the citizens are Muslim, Christian or neither. Not everyone will agree with Mr Wilders's views, but we should all defend his right to express them.
Also at Bare Naked Islam, "GEERT WILDERS IN AUSTRALIA," and Bill Muehlenberg's, "Why Geert Wilders is Right."
And at PA Pundits International, "Geert Wilders In Australia – If You Need This Much Security For Criticising Islam ..."
PHOTO: "Faith, Freedom, and Memory: Report From Ground Zero, September 11, 2010."