Dutch anti-Islam politician back in UK
LONDON (AP) — Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside of Britain's Parliament on Friday, ahead of the viewing of an anti-Islam film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose strong showing in a local elections sparked concern that his anti-immigrant views have become widely accepted in the Netherlands.The 46-year-old politician, whose Freedom Party is on the rise in the Netherlands, will present the movie at London's House of Lords. Rival rallies are planned around his arrival. The English Defense League, a self-described “counter-jihad” movement with links to Britain's far-right, said it plans a march in support of Wilders. Unite Against Fascism has promised a counter-demonstration, and by midday, a crowd had begun to chant, “Fascist thugs off our streets!”
It isn't Wilders' first visit to London.
The bleach-blond politician made headlines in February 2009 when Britain's Home Office banned him from entering the country on public safety grounds. Wilders ignored the ban, flying into Heathrow only to have authorities send him back almost immediately.
A court challenge was more successful. Wilders got the ban overturned and flew back to the British capital in October, but he had to scrap a planned media appearance in front of London's Parliament building when the conference was crashed by a small group of Muslims who showed up wearing camouflage and chanting: “Allahu Akbar!,” or “God is Great!”
Lord Pearson, the lawmaker who has invited Wilders to screen his movie, said he was putting on the event in a bid to help the controversial Dutchman “exercise his freedom of speech in the Mother of Parliaments.”
He added that media interest in Wilders' appearance was intense.
Back in the Netherlands, Wilders faces prosecution for allegedly inciting racial hatred with remarks that include describing the Holy Quran as a fascist book and demanding that it be banned.
But in local elections in the Netherlands this week, his Freedom Party won in the town of Almere and came in second in The Hague, the only two races it ran out of 394 cities and towns that elected local councils. If the outcome is any indication of the country's parliamentary vote in June, Wilders could emerge as a king-maker on the national stage.
Photo: Protestors demonstrate against the visit to Britain of controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders in London, Friday, March 5, 2010. Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside of Britain's Parliament on Friday, ahead of the viewing of an anti-Islam film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose strong showing in a local elections sparked concern that his anti-immigrant views have become widely accepted in the Netherlands.