Marine Le Pen introduced Geert Wilders, the far right leader of the Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV), at the Front National’s conference in Lyon on November the 29th 2014. If anyone thinks that the Front National have changed, the company they keep clearly shows that pandering to the fears of people is still pretty much part of their political agenda.
The highly controversial Wilders was also recently in the United States at a Palm Beach event possibly organised by David Horowitz and his statements were meant to play on staunch anti-Islamic sentiment to the US audience and to basal stereotypes which conjured in the minds of listeners, a real threat to Europe based on Islam and ergo, by its followers – Muslims.
During his speech, Wilders showed what his views are around the assimilation of Muslims into Europe. He places ‘Islamic immigrants’ in terms as though they have brought nothing positive to Europe. His language and rhetoric feeds a sense of paranoia and xenophobia which ultimately has been devised to gain support through the perception of a ‘foreign threat’ in the guise of Islam and Muslims.
For example, inflammatory comments by Wilders include:
“In Europe, we made a terrible mistake….we foolishly allowed millions, (millions), of Islamic immigrants to settle within our border. Everywhere, everywhere, the Islamic culture was welcomed as an enrichment. Nowhere was the demand made that the immigrants should assimilate to our culture and not the other way around.”
“Not a single European leader had the guts to state the obvious and tell the truth, and the truth is that our Western culture based on Christianity, based on Judaism and humanism, is far superior than the Islamic culture that immigrants have adopted.”
What is telling is the ‘them’ and ‘us’ approach that Wilders takes in his speeches. Nor does Wilders care to explain the fusion of social, scientific and religious ideas that naturally melded beyond the borders of areas with Christian, Jewish and Muslim majority communities.
Carefully crafted for a US audience, he plays to the ‘Europe is a battleground’ imagery that some within the US easily digest. What is also clear is that his view is that immigrants should change themselves and fully assimilate into Western society. Wilders is not talking about playing positive roles in society, he is in effect saying that immigrants should change and adopt the culture of the host country, that they should become invisible pretty much like everyone else. This mono-cultural identity highlights an authoritarian and totalitarian streak that runs right through the politics of Wilders, whilst he rails against Islamist extremists. He talks about protecting freedoms, whilst suggesting the curbing of other freedoms through an assimilationist model, purely targeted against Muslims. He also talks of Islam and Muslims in a manner that places them as a real and present danger to Europe.
Wilders goes onto state:
“Islam today is eating away at our Judeo-Christian humanist civilisation…..and Islam is waging a war against a free West.”
Bizarrely, Wilders also implies that the Islamic State is reflective of all the theological strands of Islam, as if it is the only form of Islamic belief and that Muslims are simply following the faith. No mention is made of the thousands of Muslims who have died fighting ISIL from various countries, nor is any mention made of the sortees from Muslim majority countries which have pounded ISIL. It seems that to him, the actions of Muslims against ISIL are irrelevant, as though only his view of history, social science and social policy is realistic.
Wilders then rails against Western leaders, the very leaders who are elected to protect their respective countries and their citizens. For Wilders, attacking Islam seems to be a cover for attacking and targeting the believers of the faith, yet his statements sound bizarre and illogical. He states,
“I believe in a moderate people, but I do not believe in a moderate Islam. Mohammed was a terrorist and a warlord.”
In other words, if you follow the logic, following Islam, would make you an extremist, thereby suggesting that all people who regard themselves as Muslims, would be potential extremists. He finishes off by placing the Prophet of Islam within an Afghan context role, even though the history of Muhammad’s journey in promoting Islam was beset for a decade by constant persecution, abuse and hatred by polytheists against him and his tribe. Once again, for Wilders, none of the facts really matter. For him, it truly is a clash of civilisations based on simple sound bites, but devoid of facts. The pied piper plays to the fears of audiences, but the real question is whether people will be able to see through merry dance.