Anti-Islam Film’s Maker Blasts UK Over Ban

Richard Allen Greene and Melissa Gray, CNN, February 12, 2009

Controversial Dutch filmmaker Geert Wilders condemned as “crazy and cowardly” Britain’s refusal to let him enter the country Thursday.

Wilders, a Dutch lawmaker who produced a much-criticized film about Islam last year, flew to London for a screening of the movie despite being told a day earlier he would not be admitted.

“I still believed and hoped that they would change their tune,” he told CNN by telephone, saying he was speaking from a detention room at London’s Heathrow Airport.

He said he was met by customs officers as soon as he left the plane.

“They took me to a detention center,” Wilders said, and there he was interviewed “for 45 seconds” before they took his passport and left. VideoWatch Wilders condemn British government »

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Wilders had been invited to screen his film, “Fitna,” at the House of Lords on Thursday evening. {snip}

The British ambassador to the Netherlands told him Wednesday that he would be refused entry into Britain because the beliefs expressed in the film would threaten public security.

Britain’s Home Office said barring Wilders is allowed under European Union law, which permits states to refuse entry on the grounds of public policy, public security or public health.

“The government opposes extremism in all its forms,” said a Home Office spokesman, who would not be identified, in line with policy. “It will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country.”

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Caroline Cox, a member of Britain’s House of Lords who is not affiliated with a political party, invited Wilders to screen his film at a private session in parliament. She told CNN that she wanted lawmakers to see the film to provoke discussion.

“We’re showing it on the basis of freedom of speech,” said Cox, who has been a free speech advocate throughout her career. “It’s a serious showing, with serious concerns and serious consideration.”

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“I think it’s appalling,” she told CNN. “(For) the British government to prevent a European parliamentarian coming to speak to parliamentarians over here is very disturbing. I think it will be ready by many people as a sign of appeasement to threat and intimidation.”

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[Editor’s Note: Fitna is available on the Internet and can be read here.]

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