IF Geert Wilders is wrong, let his critics explain next month’s “Islamic Peace Conference” at the Melbourne Showgrounds.
I’ve checked what huge billboards around Melbourne claim is the “largest ever Islamic Conference in the history of Australia”, at which 20,000 people are expected.
I’ve checked what the “chief guest” – Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais, imam of Mecca’s Grand Mosque – has said of Jews: “The scum of the human race, the rats of the world, . . . the offspring of apes and pigs” whom God should “terminate”.
I’ve checked what other invited speakers have said about killing gays, beating women to make them “shape up”, executing apostates and supporting terrorists.
Wilders is the eloquent leader of Holland’s third-largest political party and last week tried to conduct a speaking tour of Australia to argue Islam is incompatible with Western values and freedoms.
Wilders might know. For nine years, he has had to live under constant police guard after criticising Islam.
Islamists have been jailed after plotting his death. Another Islamist used a knife to pin a note to the body of slaughtered film director Theo van Gogh, warning Wilders would be next.
Yes, most Muslims are moderate, Wilders agrees, but their “violent Islamic ideology” is not and commands followers not to be, either.
If so, mass immigration to the West of followers of such an ideology is a danger.
There may be good arguments against this, but attempts here to simply drown Wilders out with abuse, misrepresentation and threats shame this country.
His Melbourne speech was blockaded by violent protesters. His Perth speech was called off when the venue became one of 30 to cancel for fear of reprisals.
Even the Executive Council of Australian Jewry claimed it was Wilders, himself, who incited hatreds: “Inciting hatred and animosity towards specific cultural or faith-based communities has no place in Australia.”
The Islamic Council of Victoria, along with the Victorian Council of Churches, agreed : “We are concerned that the visit of Mr Wilders will be used to introduce overseas hatreds.”
Yet this same Islamic Council actively promotes next month’s “Islamic Peace Conference”, some of whose invited speakers preach an Islam that sounds just like the imported hatred Wilders describes.
The conference is fronted by Wazeem Razvi, founder of the Melbourne-based Islamic Research and Education Academy and supporter of Sharia law here.
“We are not non-violent,” he preached last year.
“We are violent but when there is a need for it . . . We have in Islam, jihad, yes, but we will never do terrorism. Yes, jihad is very Islamic.”
But in a recorded speech in December, Razvi said one of the speakers he had invited for the conference was Indian sheikh Zakir Naik, “my boss’s boss”, who has a very different line on terrorism.
A YouTube clip shows Naik declaring: “If (late terrorist chief Osama bin Laden) is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him.” He adds: “Every Muslim should be a terrorist.”
Razvi talks big, and none of the overseas speakers he claimed in December he had asked is yet listed in the conference schedule.
But his wish list suggests the Islam he wants to push.
Another invited speaker is Sheikh Assim Al-Hakeem, who says “homosexuality is an abnormality” to be punished by death.
He says polygamy is allowed, genital mutilation of girls “recommended”, and wives refusing their husbands sex “a sin”.
Leaving Islam “is apostasy and it is punishable by death in an Islamic society”.
Another speaker, Abu Hamza, head of the Islamic Information Services Network of Australasia, also says women “must respond” if their husbands want sex and could be beaten “to shape them up”.
“Don’t hit your wife,” Hamza says on YouTube, before instructing men to do so in an Islamic way as a “last resort” without causing bruising or bleeding: “The beating the prophet Mohammed showed is like the toothbrush.”
Malaysia’s Sheikh Hussain Yee, another invitee, claims Jews celebrated the September 11 attacks and are the true “extremists”.
Then there’s Sheikh Mohammed Omran, head of Australia’s fundamentalist Ahl as Sunnah wal Jamah, who once said: “I dispute any evil action linked to bin Laden.” Later he conceded: “He is a good man in some ways, and not in other ways.”
I don’t say all Muslim groups backing this conference know of or support these statements. Razvi claimed he was surprised to hear of Sudais’ attacks on Jews.
Yet the question remains: why is Wilders vilified for warning against exactly the Islam preached by invitees to the “largest ever Islamic Conference in the history of Australia”?