But his announcement in late November that he would make a short film to that effect sent the government into a panic. The cabinet met in secret. It ordered foreign embassies to draw up evacuation plans in case of mob violence. It put the mayors of Dutch cities on alert. It arranged meetings with imams and other Muslim representatives, distancing itself from Mr Wilders' positions. The interior, justice and foreign ministers summoned Mr Wilders to meetings, and the country's terrorism co-ordinator warned him that he might have to leave the country for his own security. The government reportedly investigated whether it would be possible to block or delay Mr Wilders's broadcast.
The FT writer Christopher Caldwell looks at the Wilders controversy over his platonic film about the the Koran. This is an interesting point of view that equates Wilders with Western liberalism and its drive to separate us from Biblical command. Not so sure I buy the argument... Do you?
Mr Wilders is something of a bogeyman in polite Dutch society now. He should not be. His perfectly legal effort resembles the kind of mischievous testing of boundaries that civil libertarians have engaged in whenever they have sought to hasten social change in the face of an indifferent or hostile electorate. In seeking to reopen such questions as, first, whether Islam is a religion, and, second, whether ancient scripture is sheltered from our laws regulating hate speech, Mr Wilders is the comrade-in-arms of those western legal activists who have agitated successfully for gay marriage, euthanasia and bans on religious display.
In the end, the best response to Wilders is the cold shoulder or humor.
If there is a violent response, doesn't that just make his point? It's like fuel for him and even for people who might not agree with him but who see his vindication in a violent response. Who am I to tell people what to do? But if you are a Muslim who is offended by Wilders, then the most effective protest you can offer is to ignore him completely .
I prefer Eutopia's response to the mania. It's generous and humorous.
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