Wild for Wilders

A Guest Post by Eli Clifton:

Far-right Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders continues to make regular appearances in the United States despite his—and a number of his American sponsors’—links to the controversial Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang (VB) in Belgium.

We wrote about Wilders last month.

Wilders—whose Party For Freedom is the fifth largest in the Dutch parliament—gained notoriety for his short film—Fitna—which makes the case that the Quran teaches its followers to hate all non-Muslims. The film received international condemnation from Muslim communities, and a fatwa was issued by Al-Qaeda. Wilders faces prosecution under Dutch hate-crime laws for his statements comparing Islam with Nazism.

On February 12, Wilders became the cause-célèbre of right-wing free-speech activists when he was denied entry into the United Kingdom and deemed an “undesirable person” by immigration officials. Wilders was scheduled to film Fitna in a meeting room of the Houses of Parliament but his anti-Muslim rhetoric was deemed a threat to public security.

In early April, Wilders made multiple appearances in Los Angeles at events (here and here) sponsored by the International Free Press Society (IFPS), the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the American Freedom Alliance and the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.

The support of the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors is particularly striking considering Wilders’ admission in a December Haaretz interview that he would consider forming an alliance with VB in European parliamentary elections. VB has garnered condemnations for its party platform, which includes a call for amnesty for Belgians convicted after World War II of collaborating with Nazi Germany.

Representatives of the IFPS were present at the 2007 CounterJihad Europa conference in Brussels which was cosponsored by VB.

Wilders’ latest trip across the pond will take him to Florida where on April 27th the Florida Security Council’s Free Speech Summit in Del Ray Beach will award him the “International Freedom of Speech Award”.

The Florida Security Council is headed by Tom Trento—a former pro-life activist—who assisted the Clarion Fund in the distribution of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. The film was widely seen as an example of anti-muslim bigotry and historically inaccurate. Trento—on his now defunct watchobsession.org website—offered helpful tips in the, “Good Muslim vs. Bad Muslim” four page pamphlet on how to tell if a Muslim is of the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ variety.

Just as in Wilders’ appearances in Washington DC and LA, the host committee for the Summit includes individuals or groups who were present at the VB sponsored CounterJihad Europa conference.

These include: blogger Pamela Geller (who gained notoriety for advocating the debunked Barack Obama birth certificate forgery conspiracy theory, as well as spreading rumors that Obama is Malcolm X’s illegitimate son), writer Nidra Poller and the IFPS.

Christian Zionist organizations are well represented in the host committee as well.

These include: Christians and Jews United for Israel, the Christian Action Network and Faith 2 Action.

Other notable hosts include: Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy and Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner (R).

The Republican Jewish Coalition will host Wilders and Nidra Poller the following evening at a separate event.

All these groups value their ties to Jewish communities in Florida and across the United States. It seems like they will have some explaining to do if Wilders enters into an alliance with VB and/or refuses to disassociate himself from VB’s advocacy on behalf of convicted Nazi collaborators.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.