SPIEGEL Interview with Geert Wilders: 'Merkel Is Afraid'

In a SPIEGEL interview, Dutch Islam-opponent Geert Wilders discusses his fight for a Koran ban, why German Chancellor Angela Merkel is running scared on the immigration issue and his belief that the Netherlands' debate over Muslims has now crossed the border into Germany.

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SPIEGEL: Mr. Wilders, you are said to be the strong man behind the new Dutch government because the minority cabinet depends on your support in parliament. Why is your party, 65 years after the Holocaust, relying on outdated approaches -- on religious and racial exclusion?

Wilders: We do not support religious exclusion -- and certainly not racial exclusion. We have no problems with other skin colors, nor with Muslims -- our problem is with Islam. Indeed, we are expressing exactly what many of our compatriots feel. We became the third strongest party during the elections in June and are now, according to the most recent opinion polls, already the second strongest party in Holland.

SPIEGEL: What do you have against Islam?

Wilders: Europe's greatest problem -- not just today, but already for decades now -- is cultural relativism. This has led to a situation today where Europeans no longer know what they should be proud of and who they really are -- because a so-called liberal and leftist-imposed concept says that all cultures are the same.

SPIEGEL: The same or equal?

Wilders: It has to do with what is described by the wonderful German word Leitkultur, which means "dominant" or "guiding" culture. I think that we should be proud that our culture is better than Islamic culture, for instance. Anyone who says this is not a racist, Nazi or xenophobe. Those are labels that have been put on many people in the Netherlands, Germany and England -- just because we believe that Islam is a totalitarian and violent ideology. More of an ideology than a religion, comparable to communism and fascism. Islam threatens our freedom.

SPIEGEL: You maintain that Dutch culture is better than the culture of Islamic countries. Why do you consciously seize upon comparisons that degrade other religions?

Wilders: Anyone who compares the traditions of Judaism, Christianity and humanism with those of Islam doesn't have to be an Einstein to see the difference. Do you know of a country in the Middle East where Islamic culture prevails and where there is a genuine constitutional state and independent journalism? Where non-believers, women and gays can do what they want? In the West people have given their lives for the freedoms that we enjoy today.

SPIEGEL: You do not acknowledge that cultures and religions can be changed by people. Isn't that exactly how it was with the Catholic Church?

Wilders: Yes, but how long did it take? I am not saying that I want to ban Islam. I want less Islam in Europe -- because it doesn't allow any room for debate. By contrast, take Judaism and the life in the yeshivas: That is where they debate how the Talmud should be interpreted. With the Koran, however, anyone who does not believe every word is an infidel. And the punishment for that is well known: death.

SPIEGEL: You live around-the-clock with bodyguards and sleep in a heavily guarded residential complex owned by the government. When do you actually meet the people whose interests you claim to advocate?

Wilders: I take part in election campaigns. I show myself on the streets. That is nevertheless, admittedly, a strange sight: There are more police officers around me than you can count.

SPIEGEL: A costly burden for Dutch taxpayers.

Wilders: True. But the alternative would be that a democratically elected politician like myself, who has never threatened anyone with death, can no longer appear in public. In the struggle for the freedom of the Dutch people, I have lost my own freedom. I know that there can be no normal life for me, neither today nor tomorrow. But that is the price that has to be paid.

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1. Adolf instead of Mohammed
cyberrifles 11/09/2010
I bet if the most chosen first name for babies was Adolf the world would scream. The most chosen first name in England is Mohammed and everybody is afraid to speak. They are afraid to offend anyone.
2.
BTraven 11/10/2010
When he thinks our culture is better than the Islamic one why did he proposed an annual “€ 1000 head rag tax” for women who dare to wear headscarves? That sounds quite strange to me. A culture of which he correctly thinks that it is superior to the condition in most Muslim countries, exceptions only confirm the rule, he can do without such derogatory measures. Why does he not regret those women who have decided to wear scarves? Would it not be more appropriate to express one’s sympathy for them? Showing sympathy plays an important role in Christianity. In theory it is even part of its definition. The problem I have with Wilders is that with his attempt to stigmatise the symbols, we think that an headscarf is an expression of being a religious Muslim, of Islam, people were affected and discriminated, too.
3. no titles
Arne 11/12/2010
---Quote (Originally by BTraven)--- When he thinks our culture is better than the Islamic one why did he proposed an annual “€ 1000 head rag tax” for women who dare to wear headscarves? That sounds quite strange to me. A culture of which he correctly thinks that it is superior to the condition in most Muslim countries, exceptions only confirm the rule, he can do without such derogatory measures. ---End Quote--- Wilders proposed this tax in connection with referring to the jizya, the islamic extra tax for non believers. In fact, now there is no tax but a ban for the Burka in the Netherlands. Henryk M. Broder suggested western countries should use the principle of reciprocity when dealing with Islam, because of inherently dicriminating passages - if minorities are respected and tolerated in a country, immigration into a country where the minority is suddenly the majority will not cause problems.
4. False accusations of racism against Sarrazin
Paris1789 11/17/2010
Quote: "You are familiar with Thilo Sarrazin's book. Do you share his opinion that there are genetic reasons for the "inferiority" of certain ethnic groups?" This is defamatory and illegitimate deformation of what Sarrazin really said and wrote. Sarrazin never said that any ethnic group was inferior due to its ethnically determined genetic code. First the Spiegel should not omit the fact that genetic issues are just a complement to his analysis and not necessary for the validity of his main arguments, of which none has anything to do with genetics and even less with racism, as the Spiegel implies. I cannot to analyse the whole genetics topic here at length, instead I refer to Mr. Erich Weede Professor emeritus of Sociology at the University of Bonn, who published a comment on October 8th 2010 in the FAZ saying that Sarrazins statements about class specific reproduction rates and migration are undeniable and that accusations of racism against Sarrazin are completely unfounded. The only statement with respect to ethnic groups that can be attributed to Sarrazin, says Prof. Weede, is that “Sarrazin considers Jews and East Asians more intelligent than Germans, that he deems more intelligence better.” With regards to the false accusation of racism, it should be aknowledged that Mr. Hans-Ulrich Wehler, known as a leftist intellectual and a mastermind of Social Democracy in Germany, defended Sarrazin in an article published on the October 7th 2010 in the weekly German newspaper “Die Zeit“ and called Sarrazin’s book the “…pleading for reform of a positively passionate social democrat” which “hits the mark”. “Die Zeit“ presented Wehler” as “most significant social historian of the present” and who, as stated by Jürgen Kaube in the reputable daily newspaper „Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung“ (FAZ) is “completely unsuspicious of right wing populist inclinations”. The emphasis on the genetic issues Sarrazin discussed in his book while misrepresentig what he really wrote are just a strategy, to discredit him and cover up one (among others) of his main statements, that high crime rates and bad performance school among muslim immigrants compared to Germans as well as non-muslim immigrant groups is linked to Islam. He did not make statements about muslims in general.
5.
BTraven 11/19/2010
---Quote (Originally by Arne)--- Wilders proposed this tax in connection with referring to the jizya, the islamic extra tax for non believers. In fact, now there is no tax but a ban for the Burka in the Netherlands. Henryk M. Broder suggested western countries should use the principle of reciprocity when dealing with Islam, because of inherently dicriminating passages - if minorities are respected and tolerated in a country, immigration into a country where the minority is suddenly the majority will not cause problems. ---End Quote--- Many thanks for the hint. I have heard about it but I would never have come to the conclusion that Wilders’ proposal of introducing a “head rag tax” could be the counterpart to the jiza a tax non-Muslims were obliged to pay in Islamic states. As far as I have found the tax is not demanded anymore. The last time it was charged was in the nineteenth century (see link). I think it’s inappropriate to resort to that tax as prove to justify Wilders’ demand. An introduction of the “head rag tax “ in the Netherlands had only caused countries like Saudi-Arabia to dig up the jiza. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jizya
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About Geert Wilders
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Geert Wilders, 47, is the chairman and sole member of the Netherlands' Party for Freedom (PVV). With its criticism of the European Union, Islam and of the idea of a multicultural society, PVV has seen its support grow considerably since its founding in 2006. During national parliamentary elections in June, the party secured 15.5 percent of all votes, putting it in third place overall. The government now in power, a coalition of the right-liberals and the conservative Christian Democrats, is tolerated by Wilders. His party is not officially part of the government, but leaders in the Hague must make important concessions to PVV in order to remain in power. Wilders, a self-confessed friend of Israel and critic of Islam, lives under very tight security in The Hague.

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