The Netherlands has protested to the British government about its refusal to allow the Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders to enter the country.
A spokesman for the Dutch foreign affairs ministry told DutchNews.nl that Britain has banned Wilders ‘in the interests of public order and security’.
Wilders was due to go to London for a screening of his short anti-Islam film Fitna on February 12. The showing of the film by the upper house of the British parliament was postponed last month following opposition from British Muslim community leaders.
A spokeswoman for the British home office told DutchNews.nl she could not comment on individual cases but that the British government ‘opposes extremism in all its forms’.
The British government ‘will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country,’ a home office statement said. Britain introduced tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour last year.
On his website Wilders says that he received a letter from the British embassy on Tuesday in which he was informed that he would not be allowed to enter Britain.
‘Great Britain is sacrificing freedom of speech,’ said Wilders. ‘You would expect something like this to happen in countries like Saudi Arabia but not in Great Britain. This cowardly act by the British government is a disgrace.’
The Netherlands is ‘extremely disappointed at the British government’s decision’ to ban Wilders from entering Britain, says the Dutch foreign affairs ministry in a statement on its website on Tuesday.
Dutch foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen has phoned his British counterpart David Miliband to express his displeasure that a Dutch member of parliament was blocked from travelling to another European Union country, the statement says.
Wilders is head of the right-wing anti-immigration PVV party which has nine seats in parliament.
‘Whether that’s possible [the screening] is a decision for the British upper house [of parliament],’ said Verhagen. ‘But refusing entry to a Dutch parliamentarian to another EU country is regretful,’ says Verhagen in Tuesday’s statement.
Verhagen initially put pressure on the British ambassador in The Hague to reconsider the decision to ban Wilders on Monday, the foreign affairs department says.
As the decision was made by the British home secretary Jacqui Smith, the affair will be now be discussed between her and the Dutch justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin.
In January, the Amsterdam appeal court said that Wilders should be prosecuted for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.
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