Death Threats Greet Dutch Lawmaker's Call to Ban the Koran

July 7, 2008 - 8:18 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A Dutch lawmaker under fire for urging that the Koran be banned in his country says he will press ahead with the proposal, and submit it in the form of a parliamentary resolution next month.

Geert Wilders of the right-wing Freedom Party told Cybercast News Service that since calling for a ban -- in a letter published Wednesday in the newspaper De Volkskrant -- he had received death threats and criticism, "but fortunately also many positive responses from voters."

In his letter, published under the headline "Enough is enough: Ban the Koran," Wilders called the Koran a "fascist" text that has "no place in our constitutional state." He said some verses instruct Muslims "to oppress, persecute or kill Christians, Jews, dissidents and non-believers, to beat and rape women and to establish an Islamic state by force."

The Koran, like Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, should be banned in the Netherlands, he said.

The letter drew a swift response from the Dutch government. Elle Vogelaar, the minister for integration and housing, called it "an insult to the majority of Muslims in the Netherlands and abroad who reject calls to hate and violence."

"It has to be perfectly clear that banning the Holy Koran in the Netherlands is not up for discussion for this government and will not be up for discussion in future," she said.

Two lawyers have filed complaints against Wilders, accusing him of violating Dutch law with his statements.

The Iranian embassy in The Hague issued a statement urging Dutch politicians to take a stand against forces threatening to divide society, and Egypt's foreign ministry said in a statement that Wilders' comments "reflect total ignorance of the substance of Islam and its precepts, applied by an overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world."

Wilders, whose new party holds nine of the 150 seats in the country's Second Chamber, the lower house of parliament, acknowledged that it would be an uphill battle to win majority support.

Even so, he told Cybercast News Service, "it is my duty as a parliamentarian to put forward ideas as I see them, both inside and outside parliament. In fact, we will have a parliamentary debate with the government in the beginning of September and I will put forward my proposal in parliament than as well [in the form of a resolution]."

The Netherlands is believed to have the second-largest per-capita Muslim population in western Europe, after France. About six percent of the population - one million out 16 million total - is Muslim, mostly of Turkish and Moroccan origin.

The country, long renown for its liberalism, has grappled increasingly in recent years with radical Islam, and inter-communal tensions worsened when a Dutch-Moroccan extremist in 2004 shot and stabbed to death Theo Van Gogh, a controversial filmmaker critical of Islamism.

Other critics of Islam threatened with death include Somalia-born Dutch lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who ultimately moved to the United States, and Wilders himself.

Last weekend an Iranian-born Dutch politician who recently set up a support group for people who have renounced Islam was violently attacked by three Muslims, although he was not hurt. Ehsan Jami, whose advisor said it was the third such incident, is now under police protection. Apostasy is punishable by death in some Muslim societies.

Wilders said it was the attack on Jami that prompted him to write his letter.

"It's terrible to see how naive and silent and politically correct the other political parties are about the biggest problem I believe the Netherlands, Europe and the West faces today, [Islamization]," he said.

Wilders expressed optimism, however, that the message was getting through. He noted that his party won nine seats in parliament last November, but that opinion polls today give it enough support to hold between 12 and 17 seats.

"The battle certainly is not lost. I am sure many, many Dutch voters share my views," Wilders said. "I will continue to fight.

Wilders' Freedom Party is known for favoring restriction on immigration, particularly from non-Western countries. He has tried on several occasions to have the wearing of the burqa outlawed, but without success.

Last month, integration minister Vogelaar caused a stir when she said the Netherlands should in the future be home to a "Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition."

A Dutch-Moroccan group praised her for her "courage," but other politicians objected, and Wilders said the minister should resign.

In an opinion survey last week, 56 percent of Dutch adult respondents rejected Vogelaar's remark.

The chairman of the country's largest Muslim group, the Contact Body for Muslims and Government, did not respond to invitations to comment for this story.

This is not the first time critics of Islam have called for the Koran to be banned.

In 1985, a Hindu in India petitioned the Calcutta High Court to have the book banned in that country, arguing that it incited violence, promoted enmity between different religious communities, and denigrated the beliefs of non-Muslim religions in India.

A footnote to the petition provided lists of Koranic suras that the applicant said insulted other religions, promoted hatred and incited violence. The court threw out the petition on a technicality, according to published accounts.

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