‘Hateful’ Islam critic Geert Wilders wants visa to speak in Australia
A DUTCH MP who is a outspoken critic of Islam is seeking a visa to visit Australia for a speaking tour next month.
Geert Wilders, who has compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, has been invited by the Q Society to give speeches in Melbourne and Sydney.
The Federal Government has not yet made a decision but Multicultural Affairs Minister Kate Lundy described Mr Wilders as “an extreme-right politician promulgating views that are out of step with mainstream Australia”.
Mr Wilders, who calls Islam “a retarded culture” is on an international immigration movement red-alert list. The Immigration Department is still considering the case and has not yet presented it to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.
Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, who is Tony Abbott’s parliamentary secretary, has previously supported a bid by Mr Wilders to visit on the grounds of free speech. He said he was not involved in organising any proposed visit but asked on what grounds should a democratically elected member of a foreign parliament be denied a visa.
Victorian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale criticised Mr Wilders. “His hateful and divisive views are not welcome in Australia, but to deny him a visa risks giving him more oxygen and publicity,” he said.
Mr Wilders was refused a visa to enter the UK, but appealed and won.
Q Society vice president of community relations Andrew Horwood said his organisation was not political or religious and sought to educate people about Islam and uphold Australian values. Critics call it anti-Muslim.
Mr Horwood said after last weekend’s Islamic riot in Sydney it was timely for Mr Wilders to “offer advice about Islam and we need to listen and take note”.
He said Mr Wilders had been waiting three weeks for a visa and asked why the government was able to “process visas for Islamic hot heads in a hurry, but leave MPs from friendly European nations hang out to dry”.
He sent a letter to supporters calling on them to urge Mr Bowen to approve the visa.
Mr Bowen defended granting a visa to British Muslim leader Taji Mustafa saying he was not on any alert list, not a member of a proscribed terrorist organisation and had no criminal convictions. He said the Howard government had not banned his organisation Hizb ut Tahrir despite the Opposition now calling him a hate preacher.