March 31, 2008
‘Moderate Islam Is a Contradiction’
Right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders wanted to provoke an international scandal with his anti-Islam film “Fitna.” He succeeded. He talks to SPIEGEL about his crusade against Islam.
SPIEGEL: Last Thursday, you released a long-awaited film that rails against the Koran. Heads of government across the EU are already discussing it and in Afghanistan Dutch flags are going up in flames. Have you achieved your goal: to provoke?
Wilders: The political elite has demonstrated with astonishing clarity that it learned nothing from the debate over the Muhammad cartoons. It bows to the Islamists. For example, our government has developed evacuation plans for our diplomatic missions abroad. That’s just an invitation to militant Muslims.
SPIEGEL: You invoke the right to freedom of opinion but you demand a prohibition of the Koran. Does that not contravene the principle of religious tolerance?
Wilders: For me, Islam is a vision of a society that defines all forms of interpersonal behavior — from inheritance to criminal law. This ideology endangers our values. I hate it, I don’t hate Muslims.
SPIEGEL: Is the comparison between the Koran and Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” not totally inappropriate? In making it, you’re providing the imams with a perfect image of the enemy.
Wilders: I want to provoke a discussion. Certain Koranic verses have moved their followers to commit the most abhorrent acts. Where is the imam who stands up in the Netherlands and says, for us, homosexuals are entitled to equal rights and everyone has the right to abandon their faith.
SPIEGEL: Your tirades are a challenge to all moderate Muslims and those pushing for Islamic reform.
Wilders: Moderate Islam? That’s a contradiction. It’s going to be a long time before we see a new Koran, an equivalent to the New Testament. Attacks don’t happen in the name of Buddhism or Christianity; nor do homosexuals get beaten up, as happens daily in Amsterdam.
SPIEGEL: But immigrant youth crime has nothing to do with religion.
Wilders: It’s true, they don’t carry the Koran under their arms. But it’s at home. And their fathers go to the mosque. They don’t tell their children that beating women or believers of other religions is not allowed. That’s why we have to push harder for a kind of Leitkultur, a guiding culture. Not a monoculture but a culture that draws on our Christian, Jewish, humanistic traditions and that poses a challenge to the Islamic problem. This is patriotism, not nationalism, this is pride in our own culture.
SPIEGEL: You have turned down many offers of dialogue from Muslim groups. You’re mainly interested in winning votes.
Wilders: I represent half a million people who are concerned about Islam. I’m a party politician and I’m not ashamed of it.
Interview conducted by Gerald Traufetter