Anti-Islam MP still leads Dutch polls after UK ban

Tue, 12 May 2009

A Dutch MP who was banned from the UK because of his views on Islamic extremism has seen his party hold a narrow lead in his country’s polls.

In March it was reported that international headlines about Britain’s ban contributed to his party’s surge in popularity.

Dutch officials were furious that a member of their parliament had been refused entry to Britain.

Mr Wilders was sent home from Heathrow in February after being invited to the House of Lords to show his 17-minute-long film, Fitna, which juxtaposes quotations from the Koran with footage of terrorist atrocities and speeches by Muslim preachers.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who invited Mr Wilders, said the decision was “weak and unacceptable in the extreme”.

Mr Wilders plans to appeal the decision in July, when he will make another attempt to enter the country.

Speaking at the time of the original ban, Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan said: “It’s true that Geert Wilders is a controversialist, who takes pleasure in causing offence.”

He continued: “I wouldn’t vote for him if I were Dutch. But what I think of him is neither here nor there. Freedom means the freedom to express any opinion, however eccentric, however offensive. The Dutch foreign minister, a political opponent of Mr Wilders, has complained to David Miliband. Good for him.

“Whether our government is actuated by cowardice or authoritarianism, it’s equally ugly. We are a meaner country than we were this morning.”

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