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Victory for free speech: tribunal overturns UK Government’s ban on Geert Wilders

THE British Government’s outrageous refusal to allow Dutch politician Geert Wilders into the UK to screen his anti-Islamic film Fitna has been overturned on appeal.

And how’s this for a delicious piece of irony – Wilders was represented by a MUSLIM barrister, Arfan Khan.

Geert Wilders plans to travel to Britain for a showing of his film Fitna, which calls the Koran 'fascist'. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

Geert Wilders plans to travel to Britain to show Fitna, which calls the Koran 'fascist'. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

According to the Guardian, Wilders now intends to travel to London next week after an immigration tribunal ruling overturned a ban on visiting Britain.

The Home Office said it was disappointed after the tribunal rejected its claim that his presence could “inflame community tensions and lead to inter-faith violence”.

The Freedom party leader immediately announced his intention to meet Ukip’s Lord Pearson of Rannoch to discuss showing his controversial film later this month in the House of Lords.

Judge C M G Ockelton, who chaired the tribunal, said that Wilders’s opinions were expressed strongly and in a way that was bound to cause offence but that the right of freedom of expression was important in a democratic society. He declared:

Substantial evidence of actual harm would be needed before it would be proper for a government to prevent the expression and discussion of matters that might form the opinions of legislators, policy makers and voters.

The ruling said there had been no evidence of public order problems or damage to community relations as a result of a previous visit by Wilders to Britain.

Said Ockelton:

It was more important to allow free speech than to take restrictive action speculatively.

The judgment goes further, saying that even if there were evidence that Wilders posed a threat to public order it would still not have been necessary to ban him because the police would have been able to ensure no disorder took place and remove him if there was trouble.

The decision to ban Wilders was taken under regulations introduced in 2006 which allow the exclusion of those who represent:

A genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society.

Wilders, who faces trial in the Netherlands for discrimination and inciting hatred, was turned back at Heathrow in February when the then home secretary, Jacqui Smith, banned him from entering Britain. He had been coming for a screening in the Lords of his film which calls the Koran a “fascist book”. Smith said his presence had the potential to “threaten community harmony and therefore public safety”.

Wilders said the ruling was a victory for freedom of expression and claimed Smith’s decision had been politically motivated.
The costs of the appeal -just under £10,000 – were funded by the Birkenhead Society, which “encourages free speech” and marks British Empire Memorial Day.

The Home Office said it would decide whether to appeal in due course.

14 responses to “Victory for free speech: tribunal overturns UK Government’s ban on Geert Wilders”

  1. Har Davids says:

    I liven in Holland so I've been able to read about Geert's opinions and I've seen him on TV. It's true he hates Islam as, in it's pure form, like Christianity, it stands for everything we in the modern world abhor. It's too bad he doesn't seem to be able to make distinction between the fanatics and the people who call themselves Muslims, like some call themselves Christians, without really knowing what they are talking about. There's at least as much intolerance and violence in the Bible as there is in the Koran, so both books should be banned, as they both seem to be able to make some people stupid and dangerous. Another storm in a tea-cup, as people who really are a threat to 'community harmony', but do this from mosques are allowed into the UK and Holland. And that trial in Holland is just another piece of nonsense! Just let Geert rant and show Fitna, a film most people have seen by now, have a few laughs and get on with our lives. Most Muslims over here are treating Geert for what he is: a joke.

  2. Rog says:

    We can always trust our government to turn a non-event into a cluster fuck…..Well done chaps!

  3. gsw says:

    "There's at least as much intolerance and violence in the Bible as there is in the Koran"
    True, but (wo)man-made laws don't hand out death sentences for criticising the 'testaments' treatment of women (as for example happened under sharia not so long ago), whereas all it takes is a rumour of a torn page from a *translation* of the Koran and there are riots.

    I really do NOT think one should compare them.
    There are also horrors in Stephan King's books, but we don't use them to justify genocide.

  4. OpenMind says:

    The main problem is the judge's statement

    "Substantial evidence of actual harm would be needed before it would be proper for a government to prevent the expression and discussion of matters that might form the opinions of legislators, policy makers and voters."

    This indicates that an extreme reaction to this guy visiting (which may not have been the case if such a song and dance had not been made of it) will justify prevention of a visit and debate from a more moderate politician with valid views to debate in future.

    Wilders although a joke obviously has a good eye for PR, appointing a Muslim lawyer to argue (and win) his case is tactically beautiful.

    Personally I'm not in favour of banning ANY book and free speech is worth allowing some fools to air their (often odious) views in order that we may all point and laugh. This goes for fundamentalists, politicians from EVERY party, those pro-censorship and anyone else you may think of.

  5. Angela_K says:

    Whether or not one agrees with Geert Wilders this is a small victory for free speech and an own goal for our muslim appeasing Government. As I have posted elsewhere, the muslim extremists will now be rallying their rent-mob-chums ready to burn flags and riot upon Wilders arrival.

  6. Brian Jordan says:

    Will Lord Ahmed's promised demonstration now go ahead?

  7. Rog says:

    Far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders plans to visit the UK on Friday after successfully appealing against the Home Office's ban. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8306665.stm

    and with nick griffin on QuestionTime next week… at least those poor oppressed bigots will have something new to talk about 🙁

  8. mike says:

    I gather the comically-named "Anti Fascist Action" will be amongst them. I encountered a few of thier kind back in my red days, they wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes in the Russian Revoltion.

  9. Freedom_Lover says:

    Victory for freedom of speech !! Well done Geert.

  10. uzza says:

    Yes, we should ban both those books in the name of Free Speech.

  11. Elainek123 says:

    Great News. It is shocking that he has to go in to hiding, as stated in The Times, to get away from these vicious people. We just cannot just let in fundamentalists and those who want to kill us and stone us, and not admit someone who is not promoting hate, surely we have moved on.
    Why are these people who wish harm on those who do not agree with them allowed to promote evil things like stoning and lashing? Go back to medieval times I think not. I want freedom of speech but do not want to be told I will reap a terrible death, if I just criticise without hatred or malicious.
    How about Lord Ahmed who denies the holocaust. He is protected. One law for us and one law for Muslims is not right…

  12. Elainek123 says:

    Great News. It is shocking that he has to go in to hiding, as stated in The Times, to get away from these vicious people. We just cannot just let in fundamentalists and those who want to kill us and stone us, and not admit someone who is not promoting hate, surely we have moved on.
    Why are these people who wish harm on those who do not agree with them allowed to promote evil things like stoning and lashing? Go back to medieval times I think not. I want freedom of speech but do not want to be told I will reap a terrible death, if I just criticise without hatred or malicious.
    How about Lord Ahmed who denies the holocaust. He is protected. One law for us and one law for Muslims is not right…

  13. Broga says:

    At the same time as I hear Geert speechifying courtesy of BBC I also hear on the same programme that a judge has said that details of the torture of a man in Guatanemo does not damage national security. The British Government will appeal against the torture details as we must not upset USA/UK relations. This is really sick. The big concern of UK Members of Parliament is not the torture details (these soft lard asses could not even imagine it); nor the rapidly disappearing Artic Ice Cap, nor the fact that the grisly Tony Blair is being supported by the UK govt as President of Europe. They are whining about having to pay back vast expense rip offs.

    Thanks for the comments on Geert. I have met a couple of Muslims myself and they share you view. Apart from the National Front and the UKIP Headbangers he should be left to rant.

  14. Thinker says:

    Just to let you know the lawyer who got this man back into this country was in actual fact a MUSLIM, this shows that not all Muslims are biased and narrow minded. For those of you who support Wilders are complete hypocrytes in stating ALL Muslims are ignorant, obviously this is not the case.