Det islamkritiske parlamentsmedlemmet Geert Wilders ble møtt av islamistiske protester og tvunget til å endre stedet for en planlagt pressekonferanse da han kom til Storbritannia i dag. Lederen for det nederlandske Frihetspartiet ble tidligere i år nektet innreise til Storbritannia fordi han angivelig utgjorde en «trussel mot den sosiale harmonien og den offentlige sikkerheten» i landet, men det britiske innenriksdepartementets avgjørelse ble nylig omgjort av en rettslig instans.
Rundt 30 mannlige aktivister fra ekstremistgruppen Islam for UK møtte Wilders med plakater merket «Sharia er løsningen, frihet dra til helvete» og «Geert Wilders fortjener islamsk straff», mens de ropte «Wilders brenn i helvete» og «Sharia for UK». Demonstrantene ble holdt tilbake av 50 politibetjenter, men Wilders – som lever under konstant politibeskyttelse – ble rådet til å ikke konfrontere eller passere aktivistene og å flytte den annonserte pressekonferansen til et annet sted:
Mr Wilders told journalists that he lived under constant security because of his views. Explaining his controversial views on Islam, he said: «I have a problem with the Islamic ideology, the Islamic culture, because I feel that the more Islam that we get in our societies the less freedom that we get.»
He was asked if he still believed that Islam was a retarded culture. He answered that under some Islamic cultures, «homosexuals are beaten up and killed. Journalists are jailed. That action is retarded.»
He said that he stood by his views that the terrorist attacks on New York on September 11, 2001 were directed linked to the Koran.
The 46-year-old first sparked controversy after making a film entitled Fitna which defined the Koran as a fascist book. He is not expected to show the film while he is in Britain.
In February, Mr Wilders was denied access to Britain amid Home Office fears that his presence could trigger inter-faith violence.
That decision was overturned on appeal this week. Mr Wilders arrived in London during the late morning and it is thought that he intends to leave the country later today.
Abu Muaz, from Islam For UK, said: «If I were to say some of the things he has said I would be arrested under the Terrorism Act. But because there is a war on Muslims he gets an easy ride.»
He added: «When Muslims defend their faith, they are seen as extremists. This man [Wilders] has said more than enough. The future is bright, it is not orange, it is Islam.»
Mohammed Shafiq fra organisasjonen Ramadhan Foundation, mener at det var riktig å tillate Wilders å komme til Storbritannia, men at han bør overvåkes nøye mens han oppholder seg i landet.
He said: «The right decision was made to let him in because we believe in freedom of speech in this country, no matter how abhorrent someone’s views are. But he has got to be monitored so that he doesn’t say anything to incite religious violence.
«If you start attacking somebody’s faith in the way that he has, they could react violently. Islam is not above criticism, and criticism based on a mutual respect and tolerance is fine. But his hatred is no different to the intolerance that the BNP and the far-Right are preaching.»
The Muslim Council of Britain branded Mr Wilders «a relentless preacher of hate» and objected to «the rapturous welcome he is receiving in the name of free speech».
Muhammad Abdul Bari, it’s secretary-general, said: «At a time of heightened tension, with the unprecedented rise of the far-Right, we must all pull together and focus on points of unity and cohesion. Our unhealthy obsession with divisive figures only bolsters their objective to sow discord on the streets of Britain.»
Addressing journalists alongside the UKIP peer Lord Pearson, Mr Wilders said that his visit was «a victory». He pledged to return to Britain and to show his film.