As you may know, the title of my short film about the Koran and Islam is Fitna. Fitna is an Arabic word with many meanings. The most common translation is 'ordeal' or 'trial'. The name Fitna symbolises my view that Islam is the ordeal with which the free West is currently confronted. Are we prepared to defend our achievements, such as the equality of men and women, of heterosexuals and homosexuals as well as the separation of Church and State? I would like to throw some light today on the question of whether the Netherlands and Europe will be able to face that ordeal and stand the test. I will also address the question of why I made Fitna , and relate to you some of the reactions to my film as well as some of my personal circumstances. Lastly, I will offer you some thoughts on the future of freedom and democracy in Europe.
Let me first explain to you why I made Fitna.
It is an indisputable fact that the Netherlands and Europe are in the process of being Islamised. For those who still doubt whether this is actually so, let me give you a few figures. In 1909, a century ago now, there were fifty-four Muslims living in the Netherlands , in 1960 there were thirteen hundred and ninety-nine, in 1990 four hundred and fifty eight thousand, and currently about one million. In France approximately ten percent of the population are Muslims. A total of fifty-four million Muslims live in Europe . In less than half a century the number of Muslims has increased considerably in practically all of Europe . Within a few decades the street scenes in Europe , particularly in the densely populated parts, have drastically changed. In countries such as the Netherlands , Germany and Denmark headscarves and burkas have now become integrated and are part of our daily experience.
However, the Islamisation of Europe encompasses much more than that. It also affects the European achievements of the last century. It is sad to see that the equality of men and women in the Europe of 2008 is under pressure. Take for example the rise in the number of honour killings, or attempts to introduce sharia wills and testaments - which award women half of what men receive - or the refusal by radical Muslims to shake hands with women. The same applies to the equality of heterosexuals and homosexuals. In Amsterdam, once the gay capital of the world, gay men are regularly beaten up, not infrequently by Moroccans.
In trying to find an explanation for the Islamic intolerance and hatred against our whole way of life and the West as such, some take the view that it must be the result of the prior European colonisation of the Arabic-Muslim world. Others name the American-British attack on the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, the presence of NATO troops in Afghanistan, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as possible causes. Poverty in the Muslim world is also frequently mentioned. However, in my opinion, none of these factors really explains the issue.
I am convinced that the explanation is Islam as such. The core of Islam is the seventh-century Koran, as well as the life of the prophet Muhammed. The Koran is very different from the Bible, in that it contains commands and injunctions that are neither place- nor time-bound. This means that the calls to Muslims to kill non-Muslims (to be found, for example, in sura 4 verse 89 and sura 47 verse 4), or to terrorise non-Muslims (sura 8 verse 60), as well as the duty to wage war (for example, sura 8 verse 39) - in other words, the jihad - apply directly to the Muslims of today. The judgment on the Jews which the Koran delivers up to three times (sura 2 verse 65, sura 5 verse 60 and sura 7 verse 166), namely that they are monkeys and pigs, is not time-bound either, so it applies equally in 2008.
I have read the Koran several times now, and every time I come to the conclusion that the Koran calls for hatred, violence, submission, murder and terrorism, and, moreover, that this is not confined to the seventh century either. Again and again I come to the conclusion that the Koran is not only a book of war, but that there is an inseparable connection between the Koran and Islam as such, and the atrocities committed by Muslims.
Apart from the Koran, the life of the Prophet Muhammed plays a crucial part as well. Muhammed was involved in a large number of bloody wars, anywhere between twenty-five and thirty of them. Islamic tradition tells us how he fought in battles, especially during his his time in Medina, how he had enemies murdered and even had prisoners of war executed. Muhammed ruled over Mecca and Medina and subsequently the entire Arab peninsula. The brave apostate Wafa Sultan said: "The problem is that de Koran clearly says that Muhammed should be a role model for every Muslim. You are not allowed to criticise him, but you should follow in his footsteps. As a Muslim it is your mission to spread Islam by the sword."
In fact Islam is an ideology rather than a religion. It is a system that lays down rules and regulations for socio-political life. Islamic law, the sharia, not only legislates in criminal matters but also, for example, in the areas of personal and family law. The Belgian professor of Islamic Studies, Urbain Vermeulen, once said that Islam is ten percent religion and ninety percent ideology. Of course, there is nothing wrong with ideologies as such, take liberalism for example. But an ideology is wrong if it is totalitarian. As a matter of fact, Islamic ideology shows striking similarities with communism and fascism. One could mention its anti-democratic character, the will to exercise total control over social life and the use of violence to subject dissenters. In fact, the Islamic ideology is totalitarian in character. Islam is not compatible with freedom and democracy. I want to emphasize that I am not talking about the people, the Muslims, but about the Islamic ideology.
I have warned against the dangers of the Koran and Islam in numerous interviews, opinion articles, speeches and, of course parliamentary debates, but a single picture often says more than a thousand words. That is why I decided last year to put my views on Islam and the Koran into a short film. This resulted in the Fitna premiere at the end of March. Without putting all Muslims into the same category, I hope I have succeeded in showing that the Koran is not some dusty old book, but that it is used today as a source of inspiration for, and justification of, hatred, violence and terrorism in the world; in Europe, in the Netherlands and in Denmark.
That brings me to responses to Fitna in the Netherlands and other countries. It became known in November of last year that I was working on a film about the Koran and Islam. From that day onwards the Netherlands - its politicians in particular - was in uproar. A prominent member of the Dutch Christian Democratic Party, the largest government party, said I was an evil person that should be stopped. An extreme left-wing group tried to stage a mass demonstration against me in Amsterdam. A spokesperson for the Dutch branch of the Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir cried out that the Netherlands was due for an attack. A Dutch Islamic organisation went to court trying to prevent Fitna from being shown, but fortunately did not get its way. Significantly, not a single Dutch broadcasting organisation had the courage to broadcast Fitna in its entirety.
The reactions were not confined to the Netherlands. Outside the Netherlands there was uproar as well. The Taliban threatened to organise additional attacks against Dutch troops in Afghanistan, a website linked to Al Qaeda contained the message that I ought to be killed, while various muftis in Syria and Jerusalem stated that I would be responsible for all the bloodshed after the screening of the film. Even NATO´s Secretary General was critical of Fitna, without even having seen one single second of it.
In my fight for freedom, I have sacrificed my own freedom, but I´m not complaining about that because I have a mission. Geert Wilders and the President of the Free Press Society, Lars Hedegaard.
Photo: Ulla Dahlerup
If any criticism is uttered about Islam, it is immediately met with the most intolerant responses from the Islamic world; whether it is Salman Rushdie´s Satanic Verses, or the film Submission by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Theo van Gogh, or the Pope who quotes a Byzantine emperor about Islam, or Kurt Westergaard´s cartoons, or indeed Fitna. Many Muslims appear to be far more concerned about criticism to their ideology than about the heinous crimes committed in the name of Islam.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs called on me to abandon the film project, as did the chairman of the same parliamentary party. The Minister of Justice let it be known that post hoc criminal proceedings could be initiated if the film was shown, which was also the opinion of the leader of the Dutch Labour Party, who is also a member of the cabinet. The Government even investigated the possibility of having Fitna banned in advance.
The Dutch Prime Minister called on the French President Sarkozy, the Danish Prime Minister and many others for assistance, while letters were sent to all Dutch municipalities stating that riots might occur after the screening of Fitna. Police commanders received a letter stating that the police, after Fitna had been screened, should register all reports against me, regardless of whether an offence had been committed or not. Everywhere in the country mayors of towns and cities held emergency meetings on the impending screening of my film. Dutch embassies in Islamic countries were requested to take far-reaching precautionary measures and draw up evacuation plans. The Prime Minister talked about a serious crisis and potential attacks.
The Dutch Government´s reaction prior to the showing of the film undoubtedly created fear in the Dutch population; all because of a fifteen-minute film that had not even been shown up to then. But even after the release of Fitna, the Dutch Government continued this shocking behaviour. On the evening when Fitna was screened, the Prime Minister muttered something in a brief statement about freedom of expression, followed by a long and serious statement about offending and insulting citizens and a statement to the effect that the Dutch Government regretted the showing of Fitna.
Prime Minister Balkenende should, of course, unconditionally have defended freedom of speech. Instead, he chose to give in to Islamic and politically correct pressure. Fortunately, the reaction of the Muslim community in the Netherlands was in general a lot more mature than the Government´s, which led me to issue a sincerely meant compliment to that community.
Unfortunately, reactions in certain parts of the Islamic world were different. In Afghanistan and Pakistan the Dutch flag was burnt on repeated occasions, as well as your beautiful flag because of the newly flared up commotion about the Danish cartoons. In addition, dolls depicting me were burnt. The Indonesian President Yudhoyono announced that I will never be admitted into Indonesia again, while the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, and the European Union issued cowardly statements in the same vein as those made by the Dutch Government. I could go on and on. It was an absolute disgrace.
Fitna was a success nevertheless. Tens of millions op people from all over the world watched it. However, in making Fitna I also tried to initiate an in-depth debate about the inherent dangers of Islam. Unfortunately such a debate has mostly failed to materialise so far, the more so because all invitations on my part to a debate with representatives from Muslim organisations, as well as imams and "ordinary" Muslims were rejected. I invited six imams, three moderates and three radicals, for a public debate with me. All of them rejected the offer. I can only conclude that they do not want a debate.
Prior to the showing of Fitna, in an article on the opinion pages of a Dutch newspaper I posed the question how the Dutch government would have reacted if I had not announced a film about the Koran and Islam, but instead a film about the Bible and Christianity. The answer is obvious; nothing would have happened at all. The government would not have taken such precautionary measures, there would have been no fear of widespread riots.
In the Netherlands, it is not Prime Minister Balkenende´s government that is ruling the country, but the fear of Islam. And that is still the case after Fitna was shown. For example, the Minister of Justice announced more stringent measures against blasphemy. And recently a Dutch cartoonist was arrested in a raid by no fewer than ten policemen; an ominous precedent as well as a boundary crossed. That, in short, is the Netherlands in 2008. It seems as if the German Democratic Republic is being resurrected in the Low Countries. In fact, it is not only Islam that will be our undoing, but also cultural relativism and self-censorship on the part of a politically correct elite.
Let me give you one other telling example of cultural relativism in the Netherlands: there is no Dutch flag present in the Dutch parliament, but we do have the Koran. It is right there on the desk of our Madam Speaker! It is a topsy-turvy world. Let us get rid of the Koran and bring in our national flag!
Contrary to what some of you might expect, my views on the Koran and Islam are not particularly original from a historical perspective. None other than Winston Churchill wrote the following in 1898: "Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. No stronger retrograde force exists in the World. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step. The civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome." Later he wrote about Hitler´s Mein Kampf: "It is the new Koran of faith and war: Bombastic, tedious, formless, but full of its own message."
Not only Churchill but also social democrats used to have a more honest image of Islam. For example, the Dutch social democrat and intellectual Jacques de Kadt wrote in 1939 that national socialism is the new Islam. And my great hero, the Italian writer Oriana Fallaci, said: "A moderate Islam does not exist. It does not exist because there is no difference between Good Islam and Bad Islam. There is Islam and that it the end of it. Islam is the Koran, and nothing other than the Koran. And the Koran is the Mein Kampf of a religion that desires to eliminate others - non-Muslims - who are called infidel dogs, and inferior creatures. Read the Koran, that Mein Kampf, yet again. In whatever version and you will see that the evil which the sons of Allah have perpetrated against us and themselves comes from that book." Wise and true words.
I am often asked how I deal with all the criticisms and threats. Criticisms about my views on Islam do not bother me much, because such criticisms are practically always uttered by those who have never read a page of the Koran or the Iranian Islamic Penal Code. Criticisms like that are water off a duck´s back to me. What does penetrate my soul is when I am called a racist, a fascist, a xenophobe, an extreme right-winger, or when I am likened to Adolf Hitler, or comparisons are made with the Second World War. Whereas nazism and fascism destroyed freedom and democracy, I am trying to strengthen freedom and democracy, to defend and protect these fundamental aspects of our lives with all the power that is in me against all the things that threaten them. And the personal threats affect me every time, one never gets used to them. In my fight for freedom, I have sacrificed my own freedom, but I�m not complaining about that because I have a mission. I do complain about the fact that our government squanders our freedom by not standing up to Islam.
Allow me now to present some thoughts about the future of freedom and democracy in Europe. It is my opinion that wherever Islam arrives, decline sets in and elementary rights are threatened. Freedom and democracy lose ground as Islam advances. Peter Hammond explains which rights and freedoms get lost as Islam gains in influence in a society. Hammond describes and predicts the following process. When the Muslim population is about five percent, as is the case in some Western European countries, Muslims will exercise a disproportionate influence on society. With the percentage of Muslims rising slightly, they will demand that they do not have to comply as such with all the legislation of the country involved, and will demand that in certain areas sharia must be implemented. When the number of Muslims reaches ten percent of the population, massive lawlessness will develop amongst them, with discrimination by the original population as an excuse, witness the riots in the Paris banlieues. Non-Muslims who utter criticisms of Islam will be threatened at this stage. From forty percent upwards - such as is the case in Bosnia and Lebanon - there will be terror. From eighty percent upwards, the state itself will take care of the cleansing, according to Hammond.
Hammond´s analysis does not bode well for the future. Whether Hammond is right in every detail I do not know, but it is a fact that there is no Islamic country in the world where freedom prevails, with a genuine democracy and a constitutional state, where there is freedom of speech, where human rights are respected, or where Church and State are separate. It is a matter of fact that the Islamic world trails behind the free West on all fronts - socio-economically, politically, scientifically, militarily and so on. It must surely be the case that Islam plays at least a role in all this. Also, it must be for a good reason that people from Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Iraq and Afghanistan massively emigrate to the Netherlands, France, Sweden and Denmark, and not the other way round.
It is regularly held against me by my political opponents that, although I identify the problems connected with the Islamisation of the Netherlands and Europe, I fail to advance solutions to these problems. However, that is a false impression of the true state of affairs. I do advance solutions, but these are not solutions that match those favoured by the political elite; they are not solutions the political elite wants to hear. My political opponents believe that the problems associated with Islamisation and mass immigration can be solved by entering into dialogue with the self-appointed elite of the Islamic community - which does not tend to be in touch with the conditions of the Islamic underclass - and by demanding minimal entry requirements for immigrants. By giving room to Islam, they seek to solve the existing problems in our society. In fact, giving room to Islam is the worst thing they could have done.
My solution to the problems is twofold: first, immigration from Islamic countries must be stopped, whereby I note that, for example, a gay Muslim from Iran who is persecuted in that country must, of course, be granted political asylum. Secondly, I advocate support of all forms of voluntary repatriation to the countries of origin. I am convinced that only these two clear and honest measures will counteract the Islamisation of the Netherlands and Europe. Besides that we should not allow more mosques to be built, and we should close down Islamic schools and outlaw the Koran.
Some may ask, is the Netherlands still a free country? It is not free when the Minister of Foreign Affairs calls on a film-maker not to show a film. It is not free when a democratically chosen people´s representative runs the risk of being politically persecuted. It is not free when the Minister of Justice announces more stringent measures against blasphemy. It is not free when an opinion poll reveals that many citizens do not dare to speak out in public about Islam, immigration and similar issues. It is not free when a cartoonist is arrested by ten policemen for producing drawings. It is not free when an art photographer has to go into hiding in London for producing art photographs. It is not free when Muslims complain about construction workers because they wear short trousers in the blistering sun. It is not free when paintings depicting partially nude women are removed from a Dutch town hall because of Muslim complaints. The Dutch government did not only capitulate to Islam, but its behaviour could even be seen as betrayal of our culture.
I am afraid that the Netherlands is becoming less and less a country of freedom and increasingly a country of fear under the guise of tolerance. And I am convinced that this problem arises not only in the Netherlands, but in the whole of Europe, and indeed in the whole of the Western world.
I come to the conclusion that there is a lack of leadership in the free West. Leadership to defend our freedom on behalf of us and our children. The political elites governing Western countries are themselves governed by fear. Fear of facing the truth. Fear of letting go the still prevalent ideology of cultural relativism. Fear of fighting for freedom of speech, particularly when the message expresses an inconvenient truth or is delivered by somebody with a critical or satirical view of Islam. Our freedom is being bargained away.
The ruling elite is afraid of losing the growing support of Islamic voters, afraid of the economic consequences of an anti-Islamisation policy, afraid of being less popular with the other dhimmi government leaders in the European Council. But we all know that fear is a bad counsellor. Rather than preserving our freedom, fear and political correctness will in the long term cost us our hard-won freedom.
Respectable democratic parties which aim to fight Islamisation and which aim to defend our freedoms will have to join forces to provide a counterweight. They will have to collaborate more intensively. Only then will the European wall be able to stem the Islamic tide of war. I would like to take the initiative to bring those parties together.
If we are not prepared to defend our way of life, Europe will in the long term be transformed into Eurabia. We owe it to our children to defend our freedom. As I said, we have to defend our way of life, civilization and culture. Part of our way of life is the separation of Church and State. Nearly a year ago, our minister of integration said that she could envision a future Dutch society being based on a Christian-Judaic-Islamic tradition. I told her, in parliament, that in my opinion she was insane. I followed the recent Danish discussion about judges wearing headscarves. And I want to say this: If a Dutch minister would say that politicians should not interfere in the discussion about judges wearing headscarves, by which the minister in fact pleads in favour of judges wearing headscarves, I would call them crazy as well.
But fortunately, there is some hope because a growing number of Dutch citizens are getting annoyed with their government because it refuses to put a stop to the ever advancing Islamisation of the Dutch society. There is a tremendous gap between the attitude of the political elite vis-á-vis the Islamisation of our societies on the one hand and the attitude of "ordinary citizens" on the other. A recent representative poll showed that no fewer than six out of ten Dutch citizens view Islam as a threat to our culture, while another six out of ten Dutch citizens see mass immigration as the greatest political mistake since the Second World War. No less than forty-four percent of Dutch citizens are of the opinion that Islam seeks to destroy our Western civilisation. The fears of these people deserve to be taken seriously by our government.
I plead with my heart and soul for the defence and protection of our Western civilisation. We will have to go all out to defend our freedom. In saying this I do not only advocate measures to stop immigration and to promote voluntary repatriation. It would also be worth a lot to me if more honest methods of history teaching could be applied in the education of our children. We will have to warn coming generations and convince them of the dangers that are posed by Islam. Let us face the truth that history has a tendency to repeat itself. Indeed, Wafa Sultan speeks the truth; the Islamic culture and ideology is backward, primitive and full of barbarity.
Let us put the current mass immigration from the Islamic world into Europe into a historical perspective and assess the words of Mr Erdogan, the current Prime Minister of Turkey at their true value. He cited a poem with the following text, The minarets of mosques are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, the mosques our barracks and the faithful our soldiers. Please let these words sink in for a moment. We must give our children an honest picture of the clash between the West and Islam. In the words of Wafa Sultan: It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality.
Let me wind up by repeating what I said at the beginning of my talk. Fitna, the title of my film, means ordeal or trial. Islam is the ordeal with which the West is faced, and Fitna is a trial that will test the extent to which we value our freedom of expression. I truly hope that the Netherlands and Europe will be able to stand that test. In that spirit, let me end by giving you my favourite quote from George Orwell: If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.