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Geert Wilders has the right to be heard

Posted by Secular on February 22, 2013

22 February 2013

Media Release

Numerous venues refused to host the talks by visiting Dutch MP Geert Wilders, and his Perth talk had to be cancelled. “Whatever anyone thinks of his views, Wilders should be given the opportunity to speak,” said Dr John Perkins, President of the Secular Party of Australia. “The right to free speech is vital for a liberal democracy, and this is true even when some find the message offensive. If we are intimidated into silence by fear of recrimination, our basic freedoms are eroded.”

Dr Perkins said that the Secular Party is opposed to Wilders’s more extreme proposals regarding Muslim immigration and his uncritical support for Israel. He questions the consistency of opposing the concept of an Islamic state while supporting a Jewish state. “Secular states are best,” he said.

“We should not, however, be distracted from Islam’s poor track record on human rights,” said Dr Perkins. “The ill-treatment of women, gays and apostates is well documented. While we disagree with Wilders’s suggestion that immigration from Islamic countries should be stopped, our policy is that potential immigrants must comply with secular Australian values, including (and especially) gender equality.”

On Wilders’s description of Islam as a totalitarian ideology, Dr Perkins explained that while many Muslims are moderate, their religion places sharia law over civil law. “That is inherently undemocratic. Wilders also makes the point that Muhammad was a military leader who engaged in violent acts. This is correct. It is a key factor in understanding the motivation for Islamic terrorism today”, he said.

Dr Perkins concluded that we must be free to criticise any religion, be it Catholicism, Scientology or Islam. “This is well demonstrated by the recent findings leading up to the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse,” he said. “The absolute authority wielded by any religion can all too often become the vehicle for human rights abuses.”

The Secular Party aims to remove that power and privilege, be it for Islam or any other faith. The solution is informed debate, reason and evidence-based thinking, and emphasis on the universal humanist values of compassion, honesty, freedom and justice.

John Perkins
President, Secular Party.
PO Box 6004, Melbourne 8008.
Tel 0411 143744


© The Secular Party of Australia Inc., 2011. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and from the Secular Party of Australia is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and to this blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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7 Responses to “Geert Wilders has the right to be heard”

  1. Nice article. Alot of people are ignoring the fact that this is a free speech issue. It is not what Wilders is saying that is important but rather his right to say it.

    I wote a piece similar to this on my page. Check it out.

  2. I concur with all Dr J Perkins has said regarding the presence of Geert Wilders in Australia. More than this however is how pleased I am with the Secular Party. The comments that the party are making cut through the nonsense of religion and the current set up of our democratic principles. This party needs to initially become as dominant as the Greens and needs a well recognised voice in our parliament. Congratulations to you all and thank you.

    • Secular said

      Thank you, Nigel. It is true that Wilders makes certain proposals that deserve the label ‘extreme’, and his motives can be questioned, but we have issues with people that decide the message in its entirety is ‘extreme’.

  3. Peter Bartley said

    I dont think Wilders is having his freedom of speach inpinged upon by venues and organisations refusing to let him use their resouses and access as a vehicle to speak, that is their right to free speach. People refusing to listen is not a breach of free speech either. Similary critising someone expressing their views is also a funciton of free speech. He has the right to speak to those who want to listen. The question on should ask,”Is there an authority declaring his views illeagal or stopping him from speaking?” No there is not. He has the right to have his views and the right to express them, others have the right not to listen as this is a fuction of free speech. One more point, does his views amount to hate speech? If it does then he dose not have a right to express them. Not all speech should be protected by free speech rights.

    • Secular said

      Thank you, Peter.

      On the question of venues refusing to let him use their resources, we specifically addressed this matter because one venue had been booked, but had to cancel the booking due to threats. That is the issue, not that the organisers experienced difficulty finding willing venues in the first place, since, as you say, that is their right.

      Yes, everyone has a right to refuse to listen.

      People who protested at the venues also have a right to do so. The problem is that they did not protest peacefully. In Melbourne, protesters pushed attendees to the ground and physically restrained them. I use the term ‘attendees’ since not all those attending were supporters. I know some people who attended. They are not supporters; they wished to hear what Wilders had to say. The protesters had to be pushed back by police on horseback. The same thing happened in Sydney.

      Protesters had a right to speak, shout or whatever, but not to use physical aggression. This, the issue of the visa and of the Perth venue is why we have raised the matter of free speech.

      At no point does this media release say that we don’t think Wilders should be criticised, or we think people should be forced to listen. We also do not say that we support Wilders. We do not support him or his party. All we say is that certain of his statements are correct. At the same time, we are opposed to certain of his other statements, such as his views on immigration, his support of Israel in denial of that country’s long-term behaviour towards the Palestinians, and so on.

      Note that much of what Wilders is saying is exactly what people like Maryam Namazie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Taslima Nasrin are saying. I am not sure what the views of these people are concerning Wilders, but I do know that Maryam Namazie at least is very much opposed to white supremacist groups in Britain and the tactics of the far right. I doubt that she would be in favour of Wilders.

      The term ‘hate speech’ refers to propaganda that attempts to dehumanise the target group, so that they are seen as beasts of prey or vermin. An example is that used by the Rwandan Hutus who referred to Tutsis as ‘cockroaches’. Such propaganda was a form of manipulation that enabled Hutus to see their enemy as less than human, and so to facilitate murder. The term ‘hate speech’ is extremely emotive, and is overused and abused by the media for the purposes of sensationalism.

      We do not consider that what Wilders has said so far in Australia amounts to hate speech. I cannot answer for what he has said elsewhere, since I am no expert on this particular Dutch MP.

      • Peter Bartley said

        Sure I agree with everything you said. I was not addressing yourself or anyone in particular, I was addressing the question,”Is this man having his right to speak impringed upon?” I say he is not. The fact that some of his opponents are using illegal means to try to stop him from speaking is another question. Breeching his right to speak is taking the legal right. Interfering with that right by a party that is not in a position take that right away legally is not the same thing and is not taking the right away.

  4. TheAtheist said

    I do not agree with what you are saying – but I will defend to the death your right to say them,

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