Anti-Islam MP waits on visa
- September 19, 2012
- 6 reading now
CONTROVERSIAL Dutch MP Geert Wilders’ application for an Australian visa has stalled, weeks before the anti-Islamic politician is due to arrive for a speaking tour.
The right-wing Dutch MP, who once compared the Koran to Mein Kampf, applied for a visa three weeks ago to give speeches in Sydney and Melbourne, but despite his staff and security being approved within days, his own application is still pending.
Mr Wilders was invited by the Q Society, which spokesman Andrew Horwood described as a group of a few hundred Australians “concerned about the march of islam into this country”.
Mr Horwood said the group had existed for two years and was a “purely educational body about Islam”, which believed the religion should be better understood.
He said he couldn’t say accurately whether it had any Muslim members, but did not believe it did.
“We need to make it very clear to Muslims coming here that Australian law will always stand above sharia law,” Mr Horwood said.
One possible cause for delay is Mr Wilders’ presence on an immigration watchlist detailing people of concern.
However, Mr Horwood blamed a fog of political correctness.
“He’s a parliamentarian of a western democracy,” Mr Horwood said. “We cannot understand what the issue is.”
A spokesman for Minister Bowen said it was not unusual for complex applications to take several weeks and Mr Wilders’ visa application could not be discussed for privacy reasons.
“The department is yet to provide advice to the minister and no decision has been made at this stage,” the spokesman said.
The anti-Muslim MP not allowed to visit Australia
- September 19, 2012
- 3 reading now
Sydney Morning Herald columnist
My hands are tied. This, in essence, is the response that Chris Bowen, the Minister for Immigration, has given to questions in Parliament this week about why he granted a visa to an Islamic fundamentalist, Taji Mustafa, who spoke over the weekend at a conference organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group notorious for religious intolerance, disdain for Western values and sympathy for jihad.
“Hizb ut-Tahrir has not been proscribed in Australia and nor has it been proscribed in the United States or the United Kingdom,” Bowen told Parliament on Monday. “This entry permit was issued in accordance with the normal procedures for British nationals.”
So Taji Mustafa came, spoke, and, by unfortunate coexistence, the weekend was marked by a violent demonstration by a group of rabidly anti-Western Islamic fundamentalists in Sydney.
What nobody knew was that at the same time, the minister had been sitting on a visa application by a member of the Dutch parliament who is an outspoken opponent of Islamic fundamentalism in the Netherlands and Belgium.
More than three weeks ago, the Dutch MP, Geert Wilders, applied for a visa to visit Australia. Visa applications by his support group of police and staff were granted within three days. Wilders is still waiting. He applied in August.
Wilders is scheduled to give two speeches in Australia in October. Because of his parliamentary obligations, if Bowen continues to sit on the application Wilders will have to cancel the trip. That may be Bowen’s intent.
Wilders has already paid a high price for his willingness to confront religious fundamentalism in his own country. He lives under 24-hour police protection. He has had numerous threats on his life.
Being a prominent critic of Islamic fundamentalism is highly dangerous in the Netherlands, which has a large Muslim population. The most conspicuous critics of Muslim extremism in Holland, prior to Wilders, were a film director, Theo Van Gogh and another member of the Dutch parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Both were subject to numerous death threats. Van Gogh was stabbed to death on a street in Amsterdam. Hirsi Ali was subjected to several assassination attempts. She was forced to live in secret locations. She left the country permanently and now lives in the United States.
Now Wilders, by condemning Muslim extremism, is himself condemned to live with menace, which proves his point.
Wilders is controversial. As the head of the party holding the balance of power, the PVV, Wilders recently triggered a national election when he withdrew his support for the government over the issue of staying in the eurozone.
His stand was costly, causing the PVV to drop from 24 to 16 seats.
Bowen is much more fearful. He is concerned that, in denying a visa to an Islamic fundamentalist, he would expose the government to legal liability.
Answering another question in Parliament, he said: “I conduct myself, in relation to the character test, in accordance with my responsibilities under the act. To do otherwise would be to open the Commonwealth to potential overturning of the decision and a potential very serious compensation case.”
Thus a sympathiser for jihad is allowed into the country as part of the “normal” process of British applicants, and an opponent of jihad, a man never convicted of a crime and a member of the Dutch parliament, is blocked from coming, thus far.
If Bowen drags the process on for another week he will have stopped, via the back door, a conspicuous parliamentarian and opponent of Islamic fundamentalism from visiting Australia.
This is a perfect metaphor for a government whose policies have caused the cost of processing asylum-seekers to blow out to more than $1 billion a year, and the numbers of illegal arrivals to surge, while at the same time tightening the restrictions on legal immigration.
If this pattern repeats itself with Wilders it will not play well in an electorate that is clearly offended by religious fanatics who use Western democracy to attack Western democracy.
This is a hot button for Australians judging by the thousands of people who reacted to the demonstrations seen on TV. The large reaction was far more significant than the small demonstration.
Normally a small group of radicals – and this was a demonstration by no more than 200 people – are consigned to the idiot fringes in the way that Trotskyite groups are largely ignored despite their attempts to gain attention via protests.
It would have been much healthier for the media and the public to similarly ignore this idiotic fringe group last weekend. But judging by the viral and visceral reaction of the public, there is a feeling that too many people have been murdered, assaulted, threatened or intimidated in the name of Islam.