Friday, October 01, 2010
Anti-Islamist Dutch Politician, Facing Trial for ‘Inciting Hatred,’ Secures His Party’s Role in New Government
Days before anti-Islamist Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ trial for “inciting hatred and discrimination” begins, his political party has reached an agreement with two others on forming the country’s next government.
Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) reportedly will not hold any cabinet posts, but it will lend support in parliament to a minority coalition government headed by the center-right Liberal Party (VVD), whose leader Mark Rutte is set to become prime minister.
“Who would have thought, a couple of years ago, that the Freedom Party would have a huge amount of influence in government?” Wilders said on Tuesday evening.
The relatively rapid rise of the PVV is seen as a reflection of hardening sentiment in the Netherlands against radical Islam, triggered in part by the 2004 murder by a Muslim extremist of controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who had focused his criticism on Islam.
About six percent of the Netherlands’ population – one million out of a total of 16 million – is Muslim, mostly of Turkish and Moroccan origin.
Six years ago Wilders, then a VVD lawmaker, split from the party because he opposed its support for Turkey joining the European Union. A one-man campaign grew into the new Freedom Party which in 2006 elections stunned political observers by winning nine seats in the 150-seat Tweede Kamer legislature.
That achievement was replicated in June, when Wilders’ party jumped to 24 seats, making it the third-largest in the Tweede Kamer.
As the election left neither the front-runner VVD nor the second-placed center-left Labor Party with enough support to govern alone, lengthy coalition negotiations followed.
Some 110 days later they delivered an agreement late Tuesday involving VVD, PVV and the Christian Democrats (CDA), the center-right party which led the outgoing governing coalition but saw its parliamentary representation halved in June, dropping from first to fourth place.
On Monday, Wilders goes on trial in the Amsterdam District Court for allegedly “inciting hatred and discrimination,” charges arising his from statements and activism against radical Islam.
In 2008 he drew protests from Muslims around the world after producing a short documentary film that interspersed passages from the Quran with footage of terror attacks and clips of Muslim clerics endorsing violence.
He had already provoked controversy a year earlier by calling for the Quran to be outlawed in the Netherlands, on the grounds that verses instruct Muslims “to oppress, persecute or kill Christians, Jews, dissidents and non-believers, to beat and rape women and to establish an Islamic state by force.”
An appeal court ruled last year that Wilders’ statements constituted “hate speech” and instructed prosecutors to indict him.
The prospect of a trial has evidently not dampened his fervor. Wilders delivered a rousing speech at a Sept. 11 rally in New York opposing the “Ground Zero mosque,” and told the Associated Press over the summer he has plans to launch an international “freedom alliance,” beginning in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany and France.
Netherlands MPs do deal to ban burqa
THE Netherlands will ban the burqa, anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders has said following the announcement of a pact to form a minority coalition government backed by his party. "There will also be a burqa ban," Mr Wilders told journalists in The Hague, announcing measures agreed on by three parties negotiating to form a new government.
The measures, which seek to cut government spending by 18 billion euros ($25 billion) by 2015, should also halve the number of immigrants who enter the Netherlands, the politician said.
"A new wind will blow in the Netherlands," Wilders said, standing alongside presumed prime minister-in-waiting Mark Rutte, who leads the pro-business VVD party, and Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) leader Maxime Verhagen - the two parties set to be in government.
Mr Wilders' PVV will remain outside but will provide the minority cabinet with the majority it needs to pass decisions through parliament in return for a voice in policy formation.
Negotiations have been ongoing since June 9 elections to reach a balance between Mr Wilders' socialist policies and strict budget cuts promised by the VVD, which narrowly won the poll with 31 out of 150 parliamentary seats.
In return for supporting austerity measures Mr Wilders, who campaigns for a ban on Muslim immigration, wants to stop the building of new mosques and tax Muslim head scarves, was to get a say in immigration and other policies.
CDA party members, deeply divided over cooperation with Mr Wilders, have yet to approve the new accord which will be debated at a congress on Saturday.
The plan, titled "Freedom and responsibility" proposes cutting the Netherlands' contribution to the European Union by one billion euros, shaving a further billion euros off development cooperation and 1.2 billion euros off health care costs, reducing the number of MPs from 150 to 100 and the number of senators from 75 to 50.
The longest chapter of the accord, seven pages of the 46-page document, is devoted to "immigration". "Important reforms will be carried out in the Netherlands," Mr Rutte said in presenting the pact. "We want to give the country back to the working Dutch citizen."
Ms Verhagen described the deal as a "very good governing agreement. I am convinced that it is an agreement that every Christian Democrat will be able to identify with."
British supermarket bosses order boy aged TWO to take down hood 'for security reasons'
The Brits just love exercising bureaucratic power to annoy, hamper or hurt others
The parents of a two-year-old boy have accused their local Co-op store of a 'total lack of common sense and flexibility' after being asked by a member of staff to take their son's anorak hood down inside the shop. Corey Read's family were faced with the bizarre security demand - said to be a policy for all Co-op customers - when they visited the store in Norwich.
The boy's grandfather Alan Barker, 41, said today: 'I'm so angry at the Co-op's attitude, especially as the weather is getting worse and Corey has to stay warm to avoid getting ear infections.'
His mother Stacie Read, 23, explained they had gone to the Co-op along with her five-month-old baby son Finley Read, husband Shane Read, 22, and uncle Chris Read, 21.
Mrs Read, who lives nearby said: 'We'd just gone into the shop to get a few things for our Sunday roast. 'Corey had been complaining of earache, so he had the hood of his coat up. 'We were just near the door when the manager said, 'Do you mind pulling his hood down? 'He told us, 'It's just that eight-year-olds will moan that he's allowed his hood up but they are not.' 'It was especially cold that day and the doors are always open in the shop.'
She added: 'I didn't want Corey getting cold as he is prone to ear infections.
'We went into Tesco next door straight afterwards and the security guard there didn't say a thing about Corey's hood.' It is understood that because the incident happened on a Sunday the store's regular manager was not on duty.
Hoods, hats and other types of headgear are banned by many shops due to fears over crime and anti-social behaviour as it makes it harder to identify offenders using CCTV cameras.
Mrs Read said her husband Shane, a factory worker, was furious but she urged him not to become involved in a row over the issue. Later that day Corey's grandfather, Mr Barker, phoned the store to complain and spoke to the duty manager.
Mr Barker, of Bowthorpe, Norwich, said: 'He told me, We have to do this'. 'He said, We have 90-year-olds who come in and we have to tell them the same thing. 'This is a bad area and we have a lot of stealing.
'Corey is quite a skinny little chap and feels the cold,' Mr Barker said. 'He's just two years old and he's hardly going to rob the store.' He added: 'We go in all the local shops and that's the first time that something like this has ever happened to us.'
The company has now launched an urgent investigation into the incident. Miriam Harrup, spokeswoman for East of England Co-op, said today: 'We are investigating what happened.' She went on to explain that the company had a general policy of asking customers to remove helmets and hoods for security reasons but that a common-sense approach was usually taken.
The End of Civility
In a recent conversation with a vendor, who I had not spoken to at any point in my attenuated life, my first name was employed. I realized at that moment that I now live in egalitarian fantasy land where familiarity is expected. I recoiled; afterall, this was a raid on my privacy. But it was more than that; in a strange way this was the latest manifestation of civility’s demise.
There have been several recent examples that confirm this opinion.
As a resident of the Financial Community in Manhattan I remember the 9/11 amputation of the World Financial Center as a scar in my memory bank. Those who lost their lives on the fateful day a decade ago made the former World Trade Center site hallowed ground. As a consequence, I have been outspoken about the plan to build a mosque in the shadow of this location, a decision I regard as a stain on the memory of those killed by radical Muslim conspirators.
Whether my position is correct or not however is besides the point. I have been smeared by Mayor Bloomberg as a bigot and compared to nineteenth century Know Nothings and lynch mobs from the Jim Crow era. This is a calumny. Moreover, it is a breakdown of civility. If the mayor is entitled to First Amendment rights, why should they be denied to me?
It is instructive that in this era disagreements lead to insults. Debate and discussion have been relegated to anachronistic concerns. And a mayor who should know better can not contain his ideological fervor and disregard for the opinion of others.
Similarly, several recent books contend that manners harbor tacit power relationships. Courtesy, argue these authors, undermines equality. What these authors really mean is that challenging manners is an appropriate expression of the lowest common denominator. A refusal to cover your mouth when coughing in a crowded subway train is a provocation, a sign that one doesn’t care whether he infects you with his germs. Yet what was once assumed, now must be explained.
For most of my adult life hats were passé, a sartorial expression of an earlier generation. But recently hats appear to be back in fashion. However, in the past, a gentleman took off his hat in-doors. He might even doff his hat in a crowded elevator. Now hats are an adornment, never taken off in or out of doors. Baseball caps are worn as rally caps – upside down, backwards or on the side. Rather than worn rakishly, the hat is worn clownishly. Some might call this inventive; I call it absurd.
Even more absurd is reality TV with programs like “Jersey Shore” where moral filters are voided. The expectation is that the principals will say whatever is on their minds, mostly sex, body piercing, drinking and getting high. This is not only TV for the mindless, it is TV for the morally vacuous.
Then there is language contamination. So many people I meet think that it is appropriate to use the “f – bomb” as an adjectival expression for any deeply felt emotion. Sometimes I think that without that word, expression wouldn’t be possible. In part, this is the egalitarian spirit gone wild. It can also be explained by an impoverishment of language skill. But mostly, I believe, it is a habit, a reflex that suggests civil discourse is unnecessary. This is not solely the province of sailors any longer. Middle class housewives, high school students, salesmen all partake. The “f” contagion is ubiquitous.
Then there is my pet peeve: drivers who insist on being in the left lane even though they will not accelerate beyond 30 miles per hour in 55 mph speed zones. These hogs of the road do not acknowledge passing rules, nor does traffic congestion bother them. They are oblivious to the rules of the road and, most importantly, do not care about others on the highway.
These illustrations are merely a few of the ways civility is in dissuetude. Clearly societies do not rise and fall on the basis of civility. But life is simply more pleasant when conversation is civil and people are courteous to one another. If this seems exaggerated or that I’m off track, ask a subway rider how he feels about the breakdown in civility. I hope he doesn’t drop the f-bomb in response.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.