Wilders’ visit disappoints Aussie Muslims
CAIRO – Amid calls for calm, a decision by the Australian government to allow far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is notorious for slurs against Islam, to visit the country has disappointed the Muslim community.
“I am disappointed they will let this inflammatory man into the country,” Khaled Sukkarieh, chairman of the Islamic Council of New South Wales, told The Australian on Tuesday, October 2.
“It won’t matter when he comes here, he will incite hatred whenever it is.
“Do we really need someone like that in our country who will influence nothing for the better?”
Wilders, the leader of the far-right Freedom Party (PVV), was due to visit Australia in October at an invitation from Q Society, an anti-Islam group that campaigns against what it calls “islamization of Australia”, to give speeches in Melbourne and Sydney.
But his application for visa was stalled by the Australian government to make sure that the visit will not trigger turmoil in the country.
But Immigration Minister Chris Bowen decided on Monday to allow Wilders to visit the country.
“It was a difficult decision and I make no apologies for mulling it over, but in the end that’s the view I have come to,” he told ABC News 24.
But following the decision to allow him in, the Dutch politician decided to postpone his visit to Australia until next February.
Wilders is notorious for his rants against Islam and Muslims.
He has also called for banning the Noble Qur’an, describing the Muslim holy book as “fascist”.
In 2008, Wilders released a 15-minute documentary accusing the Qur’an of inciting violence.
The Dutch lawmaker’s visit comes amid tension in Australia after a Muslim protest against an anti-prophet film degenerated into violence.
Australian leaders called on the Muslim community to preserve calm and self-restraint over Wilders’ visit.
“He’s not the first and he won’t be the last to say terrible things in this country,” Samier Dandan, the President of the Lebanese Muslim Association, said.
“The Muslim community needs to rise above people that have only poisonous and vile messages to spread.
“I can’t speak on behalf of the young men that protested in Sydney but I hope they will listen to the many Muslim leaders who called for peace and calm.”
The Muslim leader also questioned the reasons behind allowing the far-right politician into the country.
“We’re obviously disappointed he has been allowed in,” Dandan said.
“I don’t know enough about the policy but when Kevin Andrews was immigration minister he wouldn’t let Snoop Dogg into the country because he failed a character test.”
But some Australian politicians back the decision to allow Wilders into the country for avoiding giving him more publicity.
“We can’t simply deny visas to people based on their views, no matter how much our opinions differ from theirs, because of the precedent that can set,” Senator Hanson-Young told The Australian,” Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said.
“Across the board denouncing of his opinions is needed, however, to ensure that people who hold extremist views like Mr Wilders are not encouraged to come to Australia and spread their hatred.”
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.