Geert Wilders touches down

The controversial far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders arrived in the UK today to attend a screening of his anti-Islam film Fitna at the House of Lords. The 46-year-old leader of the Freedom Party was invited to London by the leader of the UK Independent Party (UKIP) Lord Pearson of Rannoch. The 17-minute film, which focuses on Islamic terrorism and depicts the Koran burning and provoked widespread anger around the world and demonstrations are expected in Westminster this afternoon.

Wilders was due to enter the country last February, but was detained on landing at Heathrow airport and ordered to return to Amsterdam by the then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who said his presence had the potential to “threaten community harmony”.

Wilders has since had this ban overturned and seen his popularity rise in the Netherlands. In last week’s local elections, the Freedom Party polled second in The Hague, one of the country’s largest cities and the seat of the Dutch government.

Wilders is currently on trial in the Netherlands for fomenting hatred and discrimination and if convicted could face two years in prison.

Oliver Kamm, leader writer for The Times, writing for Index on Censorship earlier this year argued that Wilders should not be charged for expressing his views and described the Dutch authorities’ decision to prosecute as a “monstrous abuse of power”.

Allowing ideas to die in place of their adherents is a mark of a civilised society. It is not hyperbole to say that in the defence of the unlikely figure of Geert Wilders lies also the defence of western civilization.

Wilders is holding a press conference with UKIP at 12:30.