I am sitting with Geert Wilders, leader of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom, and the news has just flashed that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the Canadian convert to Islam who terrorized Ottawa on Wednesday, had previously had his passport lifted by the Canadian government as an officially designated “high-risk traveller.”
That means that before Zehaf-Bibeau put a bullet through the heart of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a young reservist standing guard with an unloaded rifle at the Canadian war memorial, and before Zehaf-Bibeau rushed into parliament where, thankfully, he was gunned down by security before he could murder again, Canadian authorities had already identified him as someone likely to join the jihad in the Middle East. In fact, so likely was Zehaf-Bibeau to join a jihadist group such as ISIS that Canada did what many Western governments are now doing in the name of counter-terrorism: they took Zehaf-Bibeau’s passport away.
“That’s the same as the other one!” Wilders notes energetically, referring to Martin Couture-Rouleau, also an Islamic convert and “high-risk traveller,” who drove his car into two Canadian soldiers in Quebec earlier in the week, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Couture-Rouleau, who was shot dead at the scene of his crime, had had his passport taken from him in July when he was arrested at the airport before he could travel to Turkey.
In other words, but for good Canadian police work, it looks as if both of these Islam-inspired murderers would have left Canada and disappeared into the bloody maw of the Islamic State. Phew — that was close?
No, that was insane. Such a policy, which the Dutch government also follows, frustrates Geert Wilders to no end.
“Let them leave,” says Wilders. “Let them leave, or detain them. I find it incomprehensible that Western governments stop people who want to leave to fight for jihad in Syria or Iraq.” Let them go and never let them return, Wilders says, or, with sufficient evidence, detain them. While the West combats the Islamic State, he points out, “nothing is being done to make our own countries safe.”
Wilders supports the US-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State, and is proud of the Dutch F-16s that are flying combat missions. He points out, however, that such action in the Middle East is “not an excuse not to do anything domestically.”
But not doing anything domestically – anything, that is, that protects our liberties at home from the encroachments of Islam and its body of repressive, supremacist, and misogynistic laws known as “sharia” – perfectly describes the Western response in the post-9/11 era. It is such policies of appeasement that Geert Wilders has been combating for more than a decade as a Dutch MP and also leader of the Party for Freedom.
It is these same policies of appeasement that have made the Netherlands and other Western nations into havens for supporters of even the most bloodthirsty factions in Islam, including the Islamic State, whose supporters now boldly wave their black flags of jihad in the middle of Amsterdam, menacing Jews and Christians alike.
In a recent speech to parliament, Wilders cited a study showing that nearly three-quarters of ethnic Turks and Moroccans in the Netherlands consider that those who leave to fight in Syria are “heroes.” This isn’t much different from 13 years ago, when, Wilders pointed out, roughly the same percentage of Dutch Muslims condoned the 9/11 attacks. These are shocking figures. They provide more evidence of the failure of Muslims immigrants to assimilate into Dutch culture – a failure repeated throughout Europe where de facto Islamic sharia colonies obliterate indigenous local culture. Little wonder a large percentage of Dutch – two-thirds, according to a June poll Wilders cites – now believe Islamic culture does not belong in the Netherlands.
There is something a little surreal to this interview, the fifth or sixth time I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Wilders. We are discussing the exact same intractable problem – the Islamization of the West. Not much has changed since the first time, at least not much for the better. We are meeting in a Washington, D.C.-area hotel restaurant near a widescreen television broadcasting live from Ottawa. The sound may be muted, but we know what it’s saying. Everyone does. Since 9/11, more than a dozen years ago, since the assassination of Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam almost one decade ago, since I first threaded the security gauntlet to meet Wilders inside his office in The Hague six years ago, the story is always the same – the story of Islam expanding inside the West, waging violent jihad as necessary, always pressing forward the imposition of sharia, and nowadays, the “caliphate.”
The critical problem for the West is that with the advance of sharia comes the retreat of freedom. We can see signs all around: less freedom of religion (see armed guards at Jewish institutions), less freedom of speech (remember the Danish cartoons?), less freedom of movement (security gauntlets all over.). As Wilders has put it so often, the more Islam you have in a society, the less freedom there is.
I believe many think this same thought; few, however, dare voice it in public. Better not to risk the Islamic death sentences that hang over Wilders, they think. Better to insist, too many decide, that “Islam is a religion of peace” – and has nothing whatever to do with the Islamic State. Not Wilders. Refusing to stay silent about Islam, its law, its violence, its totalitarian ideology, Wilders, for ten years, since the 2004 assassination in Amsterdam of Theo van Gogh over a video critical of Islam’s treatment of women, has had to live within an extraordinary security bubble provided by the Dutch government. His own life story, then, is evidence that more Islam equals less freedom.
In the most important sense, though, Wilders is the freest man in the world because he speaks his mind. He speaks his mind to the Dutch people who have made his political party the first or second largest in the country, he speaks his mind to an unremittingly hostile media, to the Dutch parliament, and never mind the daggers in the eyes of his peers – and never mind the government’s two “hate speech” prosecutions, first, for his short film “Fitna” (he won), and, now, for asking whether the people want “more or less Moroccans” (decision pending). (One of Wilders’ political quests is to see First-Amendment-type speech protection come to Europe.)
Why Moroccans? As Wilders explained this week in a speech in Tennessee, “Moroccans are the major Islamic group in the Netherlands. They are overrepresented in crime and welfare statistics. Sixty-five percent of Moroccans between 12 and 23 are suspect of a crime. Moroccans account for 75% of all the Dutch who leave for Syria to wage jihad.” He added: “Nobody wants more Moroccans in the Netherlands.”
It’s hard to imagine he’s wrong, but, again, it’s hard to imagine another political leader with the nerve to say so. That certainly doesn’t mean that debating immigration policy isn’t critical. It is, and acutely so. Should the Netherlands become the Moroccan-Netherlands through continuing Moroccan immigration? For that matter, should the US become the Mexican-US through continuing massive Mexican immigration? The democratic process demands answers, not fearful silence over matters of national destiny.
U.S. politics would benefit from Wilders’ courageous example.
As Wilders emphasizes in our conversation, however, it takes more than talk, more than articles. It takes public will transformed into political power. (He often urges American friends to run for office.) Here, in brief, is Wilders’ basic program to begin reversing the Islamization of the Netherlands and the wider West. 1) Halt immigration from Islamic countries. 2) Close Salafist mosques that receive money from Gulf countries. 3) Stimulate voluntary re-emigration. 4) Expel criminals with dual nationality to the country of their other nationality. 5) Require resident passport-holders from Islamic countries distance themselves from Sharia law and the violent commands of the Koran. 6) Bar those returning from jihad re-entry into the country. They can take up residence in the Islamic State, Wilders says.
A robust start, to be sure, but the fact is, neither his country nor ours is even barring flights or canceling visas from Ebola-stricken nations. As we talk, I wonder what will change in two or five or ten years, and whether we will meet again and once again go over these same promising plans. At this point, that’s a scenario I would almost label best-case. Times are dire and there still seems to be little comprehension of the urgency of the stakes.
Later in the day, Wilders appeared on television with Sun TV’s Michael Coren. The Canadian host asked Wilders a question about how to contend with the Islamic threat within Western societies while protecting civil liberties – a theme with historical echoes in the Cold War battle with Communism.
“Listen, war has been declared on us,” Wilders replied, “on Canada, by the Islamic state, by Muslim fundamentalists, (on) Europe, on the United States, on (the Netherlands), so we have to fight them as if it was a war. It is a war. I am very much in favor of civil liberties, but I believe that in a time of war, we should have one, first priority – and that is to protect our people – the Canadian people, the Dutch people, the American people.” He mentioned the black ISIS flags that now come out on the streets in the Netherlands – which should serve as a ticket out of his country, in his view — and concluded: “If you have the intention to rob our society of our rule of law, them you don’t deserve the rights that come with that rule of law.”
The TV interview moved on. Wilders, however, had just raised a profoundly important point about the subversive nature of Islam, which, like Communism, is driven by ideological imperatives that cannot exist within the bounds of the rule of law as set by US Constitution. I wished I had thought to ask him to speak some more about that.