On August 8th, Expatica reported that Wilders proposed to ban the Qur'an in the Netherlands; the Qur'an could only be used as "an object of study," but to own or use the Qur'an in a masjid or the home would be "punishable." (This, despite the fact that Adolph Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" which, while banned from being sold in the Netherlands, is freely available to read in some libraries and is legal for private citizens to own.)
Wilders hopes that the ban "will send a signal to radical Muslims who use the Koran to justify violence. He cited the 'attackers' of Ehsan Jami as an example. They assaulted the chairman of the committee for ex-Muslims last Saturday – presumably because of his controversial statements on Islam. Wilders says that the perpetrators found an excuse for using violence against Jami in the Koran."
Wilders realizes, of course, that his proposal would never pass: "Unfortunately our proposals are often rejected with a vote of 141 against 9. But if I were to let myself become dissuaded by that then I would be better off just stopping my efforts. This book incites hate and murder, and therefore does not fit in with our rule of law. If Muslims want to participate, they must distance themselves from the Koran. I know that is asking a great deal, but we have to stop making concessions."
(This is not the first time Wilders has spoken against the Qur'an, either. Earlier this year, Wilders had stated that Muslims who want to stay in the Netherlands should tear out and discard half the Koran. These comments led to commotion both in the Netherlands and abroad. Saudi Arabia and Iran made their displeasure at the statement clear.)
The Dutch government swiftly rejected Wilders' proposal. On August 9th, the government said Wilders' comments were damaging to integration.
The cabinet and Parliament rejected Wilders' call. "It must be entirely clear that the cabinet has no intention of banning the Koran in the Netherlands and that it will never consider this in future," said Integration Minister Ella Vogelaar. She said Wilders' comments were "damaging to Dutch social relations because he is portraying one population group in a bad light and could drive even more of a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims. This urging is insulting to the large majority of Muslims."
Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has also openly distanced himself from Wilders' statements. He thinks that the PVV leader oversteps "the bounds of what is decent." Both freedom of religion and freedom of expression are foundations of the Dutch constitutional state, Verhagen said. Minister Verhagen sent a letter in which the cabinet distances itself from Wilders' comments to the Dutch embassies abroad on Wednesday, in case they are questioned about the matter.
Liberal VVD MP Halbe Zijlstra thinks that "Wilders has lost his way." "He claims to stand up for Dutch standards and values, but at the same time he puts one of these values out with the rubbish: the freedom of religion." Christian democrat CDA MP Madeleine van Toorenburg also said Wilders' disregard for this freedom was remarkable.
Religious representatives also condemned Wilders:
Representatives of Dutch Muslim organizations responded stoically to Wilders' most recent attack on their religion. Chairman of the Dutch Muslim Council Abdeljamid Khairoun: "Wilders suffers from a religious syndrome. He has said repeatedly that the Koran is a bad book. I expect he will also ask for a ban on the Torah and the Bible." Khairoun felt that Wilders had pulled passages from the Koran out of context.
Secretary of the Advisory Body on Muslims and the State (CMO) Nasr Joemman says Wilders is primarily trying to garner more support. Joemman suspects that the PVV leader is trying with his rhetoric to push Muslim youth to become more radical so that he can take a stand against them.
Cardinal Ad Simonis said the proposal to ban the Koran was "too ridiculous for words." "Just the idea! Every word that is wasted on proposals like this is one too many."
Still, the Dutch Muslim Council extended its invitation again to Wilders and his party to "take part in a 'constructive dialogue' aimed at putting an end to the polarization and feelings of fear in Dutch society."
The council understands the concerns of Wilders and the many Dutch who voted for his party, but feel that the PVV leader cannot blame the Koran for the violent actions of individuals or groups.
And this is where Wilders shows himself to be the gutless coward. Eleven days after Expatica reported the invitation made by the Dutch Muslim Council, Wilders has refused to engage in any dialogue with the group out of hand.
The PVV leader said in the AD on Saturday that he was not interested in a talk with the organization. "I will refrain from doing that not because I don't want dialogue, but because a debate on this is not possible. It is pointless," says Wilders. The Muslim Council has proposed a "constructive dialogue" to combat polarization and feelings of fear in society.
Wilders contests in the AD that he is sowing hate. "That is what the Koran does. It is a fascist book. That is not a book we should have here. Maybe if you take all the harmful verses out of it, but then there wouldn't be much left. Then the Koran would be about as thick as a comic book."
What are you afraid of, Geert? Are you scared to talk to Muslims? Can't you defend your position to those people whom you would adversely affect the most?
No, I guess not.
Geert Wilders, coward.
Update: Daniel Pipes argues against Wilders' proposal to ban the Qur'an. Shocking, ain't it? Of course, Pipes remains a goof, but it's a step in the right direction. HT: Islamophobia Watch