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Dutch MP Geert Wilders has been told he will face arrest if he attempts to enter the UK. Wilders had been invited to London by Lord Pearson of Rannoch, and was scheduled to host a screening and discussion of his controversial film Fitna. But Mr Wilders yesterday received this letter (pdf), from the Home Office, warning him against entering the country.
In a statement, a Home Office spokesman 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 on in October last year.’
This at least seems consistent: Almost exactly a year ago, on 14 February 2008, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi was denied a visa for entry to the UK, despite having visited previously as the guest of then London Mayor Ken Livingstone.
Back then, Abdul-Rehman Malik wrote on indexoncensorship.org that support for the decision ‘reveals the extent to which Britain’s political class is uneasy and unsure about its own “values”, the strength of its democracy and the importance of public debate.’
This case, though, if anything, is more worrying, as Wilders is a democratically elected politician from an EU member state who should, in theory, be entirely free to travel to another EU member state and express his opinions there.
Meanwhile, Wilders may still face charges in the Netherlands. Read Oliver Kamm on why he should be supported here.