Friday, February 13, 2009
LONDON: Right-wing Dutch legislator Geert Wilders, who is being prosecuted
at home for anti-Islam remarks, said he was barred from entering Britain on
Thursday after he landed in defiance of a government ban.
Wilders wanted to show his film "Fitna", which argues that the Quran incites
violence, in the British parliament. But he was told by British authorities
on Tuesday that he was being excluded. Despite that, he took a flight to
Britain's Home Office said he was turned back to stop him spreading "hatred
and violent messages." "He was refused entry... Anybody who is refused entry
to the UK will be detained and returned. They will not be allowed to enter
the UK," a spokesman told AFP.
"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," said the spokesman.
"I am in a detention centre at Heathrow ... I will not be allowed to enter
the country. They will send me back within a few hours," Wilders told
Reuters from the airport. Britain's Home Office (interior ministry) said he
would not be allowed entry into Britain, but gave no other details.
Wilders told Dutch television on Tuesday that the British government had
sent him a letter saying it believed his statements about "Muslims and their
beliefs, as expressed in your film 'Fitna' and elsewhere, would threaten
community harmony and therefore public security in the United Kingdom".
Wilders' exclusion caused a diplomatic spat between the Netherlands and
Britain. "It is highly regrettable that a Dutch MP (member of parliament)
should be denied entry to another EU country," Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime
Verhagen said in a statement on the Dutch Embassy's British web site.
It said Verhagen had telephoned his British counterpart David Miliband to
"express his displeasure" that a Dutch member of parliament had been
excluded. Miliband defended the British decision. "A hate-filled film
designed to stir up religious and racial hatred in this country is contrary
to our laws," he told the BBC.
The Netherlands has condemned the film, which was aired over the Internet
last March, saying it served no other purpose than causing offence. An
Amsterdam court has ordered Wilders' prosecution for inciting hatred and
discrimination based on comments in various media on Muslims and their
First Muslim British Minister Shahid Malik defended ban on the entry of
anti-Islam Dutch MP and said Britain was opposed to all type of extremism.
Justice Minister Shahid Malik said that through a new law they would be able
to stop entry of such people who wanted to visit Britain for spreading
extremism and hatred, adding that Wilders' presence in UK could provocative,
which was not acceptable.