I was surprised to see your Friday article “Free speech on trial in the Netherlands” (Commentary) appearing in an American newspaper. After all, the Netherlands is a small country, even though the Dutch don’t think that of themselves. Holland gave birth to at least five international concerns, such as Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever, once ruled the seas and managed large colonial possessions.
However, I am less surprised about stories regarding Geert Wilders reaching the American press because fanatic Islamism is as much a threat to Holland and Europe as it is here. As Mr. Wilders’ compatriot - and of author Ivar Scheers - I do know about Dutch “tolerance.” The Dutch prosecutors pursue Mr. Wilders for hate speech and discrimination because he dared to expose Islamic threats and misdeeds in Holland. This makes such tolerance a contradiction in terms.
In November 2004, filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered in broad daylight in Amsterdam by a Moroccan Islamic fanatic for producing his film “Submission,” with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, about the sour fate of Islamic women. Mr. Wilders, who knew Ms. Hirsi Ali and produced his own film “Fitna” on the fate of Islamic women, had to go into hiding. Much like Ms. Hirsi Ali, he is now protected 24/7 by the police and lost his freedom because of Islamic death threats for expressing his point of view. If the Dutch are so “tolerant” in allowing Islamic hate speech in mosques and in public, why would someone who exposes and criticizes this hate speech as a national threat be sued or prosecuted for the same?
I recall that I opposed the liberalization of the borders and abolishment of passport controls in 1966 during my time at the “Benelux” (the union of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg - a predecessor of the EU) because it would encourage uncontrolled immigration to Belgium by Islamic North Africans and Turks who displayed a considerable lack of assimilation. Of course, that was not a very tolerant (or “politically correct”) attitude, and it contributed to my relinquishing of my function in the administration. I wish Mr. Wilders the best in his plight against fanatical Islam because he is right.