Deborah Gyapong: Geert Wilders in Ottawa

Geert Wilders in Ottawa

Robert Sibley reports on last night's event. Here's an excerpt:

OTTAWA — Canadians will see the erosion of their cultural values, including freedom of speech, if they continue to follow multicultural policies that are allowing the Islamization of the country, says Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

“Multiculturalism, I’m afraid, has been a disaster, but only because it is being used as a tool to promote Islam,” he said Tuesday evening in a private reception at the National Arts Centre.

The reception, which saw more than 200 people pack the Fountain Room at the NAC, was jointly sponsored by the International Free Press Society and Ottawa-based Free Thinking Film Society. It was part of Wilders’ three-city tour of Canada that also included stops in London and Toronto. Maverick political activist and media commentator Ezra Levant introduced Wilders as “the bravest man in Europe.”

Wilders has certainly become a hugely controversial figure in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, where he is the leader of the third most popular political party in the country and is currently propping up a minority government, the Freedom Party, PVV. But he is also being prosecuted — some say persecuted – for alleged hate speech crimes against Muslims, including referring to the Koran as a “fascist book” that promotes ideological views comparable to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and saying that if the Prophet Muhammad were alive today he would “be hunted down as a terrorist.”

Wilders, 47, insists he is not anti-Muslim. Indeed, he has travelled extensively in Muslim countries and claims a solid knowledge of Islam and its holy book, the Koran. He sums up his attitude, saying “I don’t hate Muslims, I hate Islam.”

He reiterated that attitude Tuesday evening. “Islam and freedom are incompatible,” he said, arguing that all the demands for democratic freedom currently embroiling the Middle East will come to nothing unless Arabs “liberate themselves from Islam (and) reject this evil book, the Koran.”

Canadians, too, need to liberate themselves from notions of cultural relativism that regard all cultures to be of equal worth. How, he said, can a religious culture that allows honour killing, the genital mutilation of women and the stoning of adulterers be considered as anything other than barbaric.

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