Noon UPDATE: Wilders denied entry into UK.
From my coleagues at the International Free Press Society:
UK Parliament to show controversial film Fitna
Parliament has ordered extra security for a House of Lords event with the
controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders. The private screening of Wilders’ film Fitna was initially postponed to allow time for clarification on issues concerning freedom of speech. Despite threats of demonstration from a British Peer and Muslim community leaders, the meeting will go ahead Thursday 12th February.
Wilders’ film Fitna features verses from the Quran alongside images of the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. The film equates Islam’s holy text with violence and ends with a call to Muslims to remove ‘hate-preaching’ verses from the Quran. It provoked protests in Muslim-majority countries including Indonesia and Pakistan.
The leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, Wilders has lived under 24 hour police protection since 2004. Following Fitna’s release online in March 2008 al-Qaeda issued a fatwa calling for Wilders’ murder.
Wilders currently faces prosecution in Holland for incitement to hatred and discrimination. The charges are based on his film Fitna and comments in the Dutch press last year in which he argued that as Mein Kampf has been banned in Holland, the Quran should similarly be banned in under Dutch incitement laws.
Wilders called the Dutch Court of Appeal’s decision to prosecute an attack on freedom of expression. “Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted,” he said.
The court ruled that prosecution does not conflict with Wilders’ right to freedom of speech. “Statements which create hate and grief made by politicians, taken their special responsibility into consideration, are not permitted according to European standards,” the court said in a statement.
The House of Lords event, originally scheduled for January, was not postponed in response to the threats made by the British Peer, Lord Ahmed. However, Lord Ahmed told the Pakistani press that the decision to stop the screening was “a victory for the Muslim community.”
Following the private screening there will be a press conference:
“The Quran and Freedom of Speech”
A screening of Fitna (2008 – 17 mins)
Q&A with Geert Wilders MP (Holland)
No. 1 Abbey Gardens
Thursday 12th February
6:00 – 7:00pm
Notes to editor:
1.) The House of Lords event is hosted by Lord Pearson, a UKIP Peer with a special interest in the European Union, Islamism and education. It will be chaired by Baroness Cox, a crossbench Peer and a human rights campaigner with a strong commitment to humanitarian aid and education; she is a founder of The International Islamic Christian Organisation for Reconciliation and Reconstruction.
Contact: Lord Pearson of Rannoch: Telephone UK 207 735 3170; e-mail PeersandMPs@aol.com