Thursday, 16 March 2017

Geert Wilders is an Enemy of Liberal Values and a Symptom of Liberal Acquiescence to Religious Extremism

(This article was published here by Areo Magazine)

Common sense has prevailed in Holland. The Dutch people have returned Mark Rutte of the centre right People's Party to power. Whatever the legitimate criticisms Wilders and his Freedom Party have with regards to Islamic extremism their supposed solutions are illiberal, divisive and likely to lead to persecution of genuine moderate Muslims if they were ever to take power.

Wilder's proposed ban on the Koran and the closing of all mosques violates two of liberalism's most cherished principles: freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. Now, I am no fan of the Koran, I deeply oppose many of the moral precepts that it preaches, but I think it should be critiqued not banned. The only time it is permissible as a liberal to limit freedom of speech is if that speech directly promotes violence or harm to others as outlined by liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill in his harm principle. If Wilders had called for a shutting down of Mosques that promote jihadi violence or that instruct its members to kill apostates (ex-Muslims) as radical mosques do, then he would have been acting consistent with liberal values. Instead, he chose to treat all Muslims in Holland as if they were Islamists who are seeking to impose sharia law on Holland and the rest of Europe. Of course, there is an Islamist threat in Holland, as there is across Europe, but lumping all Muslims in with the Islamists is counter-productive as it alienates the genuine secular moderate Muslims, as well as the peaceful social conservative Muslims who oppose the Islamists as much as secular liberals like myself do.

Wilders has opposed and denounced the secular liberal Muslim Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, a staunch defender of secular values who has told Muslim immigrants that they should integrate and respect European values such as freedom of speech. Just like Wilders, Ahmed Aboutaleb, has been on the receiving end of death threats from Islamists. Wilders should be allying himself with people like Ahmed Aboualeb, but he is not doing so because as much as he is an opponent of Islam, he is also an ethnic nationalist who opposes anyone of a different ethnic origin becoming a Dutch citizen and holding political office in Holland. Wilders often claims he opposes Islam because he wants to defend liberal values, but if he was a true liberal he would be allying himself with liberal Muslims who are often a minority in their own community. The fact that he opposes brave men like Ahmed Aboutaleb, shows that he is much more concerned with keeping Holland ethnically pure than he is with promoting liberal values.

Although I vehemently oppose Wilders and all ethnic nationalist parties they have arisen and grown in popularity because  most of my fellow liberals, the mainstream political parties and the media have for some time been reluctant to fully recognise and openly discuss that Muslim communities in the west have a far right problem of their own in the form of Islamism that needs to be faced down in the same way that Wilders and other ethnic nationalist groups need to be challenged. In fact, many so called liberals have attacked and condemned secular Muslims and ex-Muslims for opposing the far right in their own communities. In fact, they have even gone one step further and allied themselves with Islamic extremists like Linda Sarsour, one of the organisers of the Women's march against Donald Trump in the United States who has defended sharia law and Saudi Arabia. Surely this had to be the final nail hammered in to the coffin that contains the credibility of  mainstream western feminism.

It is time for all of us who consider ourselves to be liberal to come forward and to ally ourselves with genuine moderate Muslims and ex-Muslim activists. If we don't, the ethnic nationalists will grow in support every time there is a jihadi attack in Europe, or when a writer or cartoonist is threatened or killed simply for criticising a religion. If liberals continue to refuse to oppose the Islamic far right and defend the values they purport to hold then don't be surprised when the likes of Wilders & Le Pen  continue to grow in popularity.

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