AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch member of parliament facing prosecution because of his anti-Islam remarks said on Tuesday that Britain had refused him entry to the country as a threat to public security.
Geert Wilders had wanted to show a short film, “Fitna,” which accuses the Koran of inciting violence, in the British parliament, but said the British authorities had told him he was excluded from the country.
“The secretary of state (minister) is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film ”Fitna“ and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the United Kingdom,” Wilders told Dutch television a letter he had received from the British government said.
Wilders faces prosecution by an Amsterdam court for inciting hatred and discrimination.
Britain’s Home Office (interior ministry) declined to comment on Wilders’ exclusion, but a spokeswoman said the government opposed all forms of extremism.
“It will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country,” she said.
Wilders, whose film urged Muslims to tear out “hate-filled” verses from the Koran and who has compared Islam to Nazism, said on his party’s website Britain had sacrificed freedom of speech.
“This is something you expect in Saudi Arabia but not in Britain. I think this cowardly position of Britain is very bad,” he wrote.
The Netherlands has complained to Britain about Wilders’ exclusion on the ground that Dutch members of parliament should be able to travel freely in the European Union, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen said in a statement.
The Netherlands has condemned the film, which was aired over the Internet last March, and distanced itself from its content, saying the film served no other purpose than causing offence.
Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger, additional reporting by Kate Kelland in London, editing by Tim Pearce