Jessica Hume, National Post, May 9, 2011
The presence of Muslims in Canada threatens the country’s freedoms and democracy, and only if immigration from Islamic countries is suspended can the cultural deterioration of the country be stopped, controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders told a packed house Monday night in Toronto.
“Our Western culture is far superior to Islamic culture,” Mr. Wilders said. “And only once we are convinced of this will we be able to defend our civilization.”
The event, held at the Canadian Christian College in north Toronto, marked Mr. Wilders’ second stop on a three-city tour. The visit, his first to Canada, is sponsored by the International Free Press Society.
He spoke in London on Sunday, and he will be in Ottawa on Tuesday.
Charles McVety, president of the Christian College, introduced Mr. Wilders to an ebullient crowd as a man with “a prophetic message.”
The leader of Party for Freedom, the third party in the Dutch parliament, Mr. Wilders is better known for his uncompromising position on Islam. His vitriol against the religion has necessitated the hiring of 24-hour personal security for the past seven years.
In his speech on Monday night, he said Muslim immigrants to Europe have changed the social and political landscape there. An increasingly vociferous Islamic lobby has led to the harassment of Christians, female genital mutilation and polygamy, he said, adding that with its own growing Muslim community, Canada faces the same fate.
His career has been driven by a belief that the Koran encourages violence, that moderate Islam is an impossibility and that in allowing Muslims to immigrate to Western nations, these countries open themselves up to inevitable Islamization.
“We need the spirit of resistance to this evil,” he said. “That is our moral duty.”
Seventeen-year-old Oren Wry was not entirely convinced. Sitting in the seventh row, the teenager does not identify as a critic of Islam, but said there are elements of Mr. Wilders’ ideas that intrigue him.
“Geert has some harsh ideas, but there’s a lot of political correctness in Canada I disagree with,” Mr. Wry said. “But personally, I think the best way to get past the stereotypes is to embrace our differences.”
Outside the college, a small crowd of about 10 activists had gathered to protest the event.
“There’s a difference between exercising freedom of speech and racism,” said Kate Milley, an activist with the first nations solidarity working group, who along with the Anti-racism Action group, organized the protest. “I have two issues here: One is with his message, and the other is that groups in Canada are sponsoring him to come and spread that message.”
Farooq Khan, executive director of the North American Muslim Foundation, expressed shock at Mr. Wilders’ being allowed into the country, and is dismayed by what he sees as a lack of nuance in the views of many Westerners about Islam.
“It is the political agenda of the far right, which is hell-bent on on creating an environment in which Muslims must get out of the West,” Mr. Khan said in an interview before Monday’s speech. “The Wilders event is nothing more than creating hatred.”
Mr. Khan said it is because of events such as Monday’s that Muslims in Canada feel marginalized, feelings he said lead young Muslims toward radicalization.