|Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, right, and his lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz, left, are seen inside the courtroom in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010|
Freedom: What do the trial of a Dutch politician, multiple terrorist threats in Western Europe and a speech by a Mideast tyrant have in common? Plenty, if you're a citizen of the West. It's all part of a game of intimidation.
On Monday, the trial for Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders began. His odious crime? Speaking out against the Netherlands' open-border immigration policies, which have been blamed for letting hundreds of thousands of Muslims move in without assimilating into Dutch society.
The Dutch government charges Wilders with the Orwellian crime of "hate speech." For this, Wilders could spend a year in prison.
You don't have to agree with Wilders or like what he says — we find some of his utterances repugnant — to see that this trial is bad for Western democracy.
Wilders has been charged for saying things such as "I've had enough of Islam in the Netherlands; let not one more Muslim immigrate."
Intolerant? Maybe. But certainly it's legitimate to question whether the Netherlands' longtime policy of encouraging large numbers of unassimilable Islamic immigrants into a country whose liberal culture and tradition of openness they don't respect is a good one.
As for Wilders, he is certainly no more intolerant than those Islamists across Europe who now intimidate Euro-politicians by threatening them with death. In the Netherlands alone, filmmaker Theo Van Gogh (2004) and Dutch sociologist and politician Pim Fortuyn (2002) were murdered by Islamists or open-borders advocates.
The West's longstanding democratic tradition of free expression means nothing if it doesn't protect unpopular speech. Wilders happens to be a leader of the Freedom Party, which finished third in June's Dutch elections. By trying Wilders, the Dutch government is really trying to silence Wilders' estimated 1.5 million followers.
By the way, if you think Wilders' remarks were intemperate, here's what Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said just this weekend to the West's leaders, according to Reuters: "May the undertaker bury you, your table and your body, which has soiled the world." Now that's hate speech.
When Wilders recently tried to visit Britain, he was denied entry. Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, who has repeatedly called for the death of the West, just last month was let into the U.S. to attend a United Nations confab and received warm applause for his hate-filled speech in which he accused the U.S. of staging 9/11.
Much of the European Continent today is on high alert over a possible terrorist attack by — you guessed it — Islamic extremists.