Czech Senate bans appearance by controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders

The Czech Senate on Thursday banned an appearance by the controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders on its premises. Mr Wilders was going to screen his anti-Islamic film, Fitna, and address a conference held by Czech anti-Islamists and Euro-sceptics.

The controversial anti-Islamic movie Fitna by Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, was due to be shown in the Czech Senate on November 30. Mr Wilders, who will be coming to Prague at the invitation of a Czech anti-Islamist website, eurabia.cz, and Civic Democrat Senator Jiří Oberfalzer, was also going to deliver an address entitled “Free Speech and the Islamization of Europe”. The news immediately sparked a huge controversy, and Senate leaders eventually banned Mr Wilders from appearing on the premises of the upper chamber. Civic Democrat Přemysl Sobotka is the Senate’s chair.

“When I found out about the details, and when I learned about what he was going to talk about here in the Senate, I said clearly it was a problem that such a controversial politician should appear in one of the chambers of the Czech Parliament.”

The Senate’s media commission, which originally approved the event, revoked its decision. Meanwhile, the Civic Democratic Party distanced itself from the invite, and so did the heads of both chambers’ foreign committees. I asked one of the organizers, Daniel Kotula, whether he was surprised by the reaction.

“I expected that there would be some voices that would not welcome Wilder’s visit but I did not expect that they would be from the Civic Democrats because they and Mr Wilders have very similar opinions. So I don’t understand. I expected this from some Social Democrats or the Greens for instance, but not from Civic Democrats.”

Senator Jiří Oberfalzer, who is well-known for his opposition to the EU’s Lisbon treaty, and the editors of eurabia.cz are now looking for another venue. They want to draw attention to how the Lisbon treaty will change the immigration policies within the EU. Daniel Kotula again.

“It’s also related to the Lisbon treaty because it has some paragraphs related to immigration. Now that the Lisbon treaty is ratified, the EU can change immigration flows within the European Union, from example from Italy to central Europe.”

The country’s several-dozen-thousand-strong Muslim community is unfazed by the event, regardless of where Geert Wilders will screen his anti-Islamic movie. Mohammad Abbas is the head of the Muslim Union of the Czech Republic.

“Traditionally, the Muslim community here ignore such provocations. This man is coming to provoke, and I think that if we react to this, it will be exactly what he wants. He wants to show Muslims as people who are not rational. I think the best thing is to ignore him, just like that.”