We write to raise our deep concern regarding the visit of Mr. Geert Wilders, a Dutch lawmaker known for perpetuating Islamaphobia. Mr. Wilders is scheduled to have a series of meetings in Washington next week. We respectfully request that the U.S. government deny Mr. Wilders entry due to his participation in inciting anti-Muslim aggression and violence.
In the past, the United States has denied entry to international leaders under the authority of the International Religious Freedom Act which allows the Department of State to deny entry to a foreign leader who is responsible for severe violations of religious freedom. This precedent is applicable to Mr. Wilders.
In 2010 and 2011 Wilders was formally charged with inciting hatred and discrimination by the Dutch government. Mr. Wilders is currently facing charges of inciting hatred for proposing to arrange the removal of Moroccans from the Netherlands at a campaign rally. Reports indicate that Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist responsible for the murder of 77 people in Oslo, was inspired by Mr. Wilders’ hateful message.
Mr. Wilders’ policy agenda is centered on the principle that Christian culture is superior to other cultures. He justifies his desire to ban the Quran and Islam from the Netherlands with depraved comments like, “Islam is not a religion, it’s an ideology, the ideology of a retarded culture.” We should not be importing hate speech.
In the U.S., freedom of speech is a bedrock principle that distinguishes free societies from ones living under oppressive regimes. Freedom of speech, however, is not absolute. It is limited by the legal and moral understanding that speech that causes the incitement of violence or prejudicial action against protected groups is wrong. As Mr. Wilders continues his pursuit of political power, granting him entry will embolden him to engage in further incitement of violence and discrimination against Muslims.
Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are sweeping through Europe. Mr. Wilders is among the hateful leaders responsible for perpetuating prejudice. Allowing him to enter the United States will cause harm to our nation that values religious freedom and respects pluralism.