So now let us see his mettle. He wants free speech, and now he’s been challenged to debate by someone who comes over as an enlightened Muslim.
“The decision by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal* to rescind the unjust ban on Geert Wilders [. . .] entering the UK should be heartily endorsed by all true democrats,” writes Dr T Hargey in a reader’s letter the UK’s Guardian. He continues:
When Jacqui Smith issued her prohibition order last February preventing the controversial leader of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands from coming to the UK – apparently at the urging of certain pro-Labour Muslim groups – this was a worrying triumph for intolerance and fanaticism. The Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford opposed the Wilders proscription as a denial of his fundamental democratic rights and freedom of expression.
Hargey, an imam, echoes our own sentiments in this: let debate commence. What is the point in banning someone and stifling debate – especially when many of those whom he seems to be against would welcome the opportunity? Hargey continues:
In fact, last April, on behalf of enlightened British Muslims, we challenged this far-right Dutch politician to a properly moderated public airing of his mad prejudices against Islam in a neutral venue of his choice, but he has thus far remained strangely silent and non-responsive. Now that Wilders plans to come to Britain next week, will this bigoted populist just play to the viscerally anti-Muslim crowd here, or will he be bold enough to get together in robust intellectual debate and honest dialogue? Is this extremist Islamophobe merely content in peddling a toxic mix of half-truths, caricatures and myths about Islam, or does he have a genuine interest in Europe’s future?__________
Since Wilders has not had the courtesy even to acknowledge our repeated correspondence, does he have the guts to engage with a progressive Muslim in an earnest and regulated debate? Is he capable of defending his facile claims in a protected public forum in the UK? We are ready whenever this white knight in shining armour is brave enough.
Goodness knows what lunacy possesses the Guardian’s editor, but even proper nouns are left uncapped, as “Asylum and Immigration Tribunal” was in the letter above (which we have corrected). How are we to know whether it’s a name or just a description? But that's trendiness for you – trendiness for trendiness’s sake. This has nothing to do with the post above, but I thought I’d make the point. Indulge me!