Wednesday, November 24, 2004
The Legacy of Allowing Hate to Flourish
A Muslim preacher has provoked a storm of protest by admitting on Dutch television he wants parliamentarian Geert Wilders to die. Wilders, an independent Conservative MP, plans to set up a party "to tackle Islamic extremism" in the Netherlands.
Abdul-Jabbar van de Ven, 25, was asked on programme Het Elfde Uur on the evangelical broadcaster EO if he wanted Wilders, who faces death threats for criticising Islam, to die within the next two years.
Van de Ven told presenter Andries Kneuvel that he wished Wilders would die, preferrably due to illness.
But he said he hoped Wilders was not murdered by a Muslim and that murder in general was wrong.
He did admit however that he felt "some joy" on hearing of the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh on 2 November. Van Gogh was apparently killed because he made a short film featuring semi-naked women talking about domestic violence in Islamic society.
A Muslim, 26, who holds Moroccan and Dutch nationality, has been arrested for the killing.
Prosecutors say the murder suspect Mohammed B. was part of a group of extremist young Muslims. Several other people have been arrested as part of the investigation into Van Gogh's assassination.
Preacher Van de Ven used the television programme on Tuesday night to once again deny media accusations that his sermons in mosques have helped radicalise some of the suspects and drive them to violence.
Van de Ven made the distinction between a "wish and the act". He said one could wish in one's thoughts and prayers that a person might die, but not approve of murder.
Presenter Knevel told the media later he was very unhappy with the preacher's comments.
The programme received hundreds of reactions following the interview with Van de Ven. Some listeners were angry the programme had given Van de Ven a platform to express his views.
Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk said on Radio 1 news she was shocked at the views expressed by the preacher. "How can we in the Netherlands have sunk so low. I am really concerned about this," she said.
Verdonk was one of the politicians in the Netherlands who defended the principle of freedom of speech in the days after Van Gogh's murder.