Two Congressmen Host ‘One Of The Most Notorious Bigots In The World’



Geert Wilders

Two members of Congress hosted Dutch Politician and founder of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom Geert Wilders Wednesday. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) described Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert’s (R-TX) invitation for Wilders to speak to the Conservative Opportunity Society as “deeply distressing.”

“Muslims can be moderates. But there is no moderate Islam,” Wilders said to the crowd. “Islam has changed Europe beyond recognition.”

Wilders has a history of using discriminatory speech, particularly against Muslim immigrants and Islam, and he did so again at Wednesday’s speech by comparing the religion to National Socialism (Nazism).

“Mr. Wilders is entitled to express his opinions, but for an elected member of the House of Representatives to provide a platform for a man who is practically an international symbol of anti-Muslim hatred not only lends him credibility, it ill-serves the goal of having a Congress that lives up to America’s ideals of tolerance,” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a press release from earlier this week. “Reps. King and Gohmert should reconsider the invitation, given this individual’s established record as one of the most notorious bigots in the world.”

In fact, Wilder’s name appears 30 times in a search of Anders Behring Breivik’s Manifesto – a Norwegian man who killed 77 people in 2011. Breivik lists Wilders as one of five people he would want to meet. The list also includes Radovan Karadzic, a man charged with the Srebrenica Massacre.

“[Wilders] is a preacher of hate,” Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, Dr. John Esposito told ThinkProgress. “He doesn’t simply condemn — which would be perfectly correct and understandable — militant extremists but he strikes fear in the heart of people by denouncing the religion of Islam and the Quran as fascist.”

Wilders also selectively quoted suras from the Quran to drive home his point.

“If you take Old Testament or what we call the Hebrew scripture and you take the Quran and you take passages that deal with lawfare and take them out of context then you can attribute anything you want,” said Esposito. “For example, as a number of prominent scholars have noted if you take the Old Testament quotes out of context you have God calling on people to kill and slaughter – men women and animals. As Phillip Jenkins and Bishop Spong note in their writings on the Bible, some Old Testament passages quoted out of context can be interpreted as advocating genocide.”

Esposito said:

“With passages in the Quran he does exactly what militant Muslim extremist do. For example –  ‘slay the unbelievers where you find them’ — this had to do with Muslims persecuted by other Arabs, the so called Meccan class, and nothing to do with slaying Christians and Jews. He uses the same line as extremists and takes it out of context and applies it universally. If you are going to do that, in all honestly, as someone who comes out of Christian culture he should do that with the bible.  There are far more and very difficult ones to deal with.”

“The bottom line is that it’s intolerable that anybody with an education is doing what he’s doing,” said Esposito.


Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress


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