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Feb 20, 2013

Wilders from the inside, where mouths are ‘more dangerous than guns’

Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders spoke in Melbourne last night. Shakira Hussein, a Muslim, attended for Crikey -- she found it weird and at times menacing.

I toyed with the idea of wearing a Pakistani shalwar kameez to last night’s lecture by visiting Dutch anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders before deciding to go ethnic-lite — trousers and a short-sleeved shirt covered by a long translucent Malaysian blouse and a scarf draped over my shoulders.

It wasn’t easy to get into the venue, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, even though I’d arranged to attend as a journalist for Crikey. Every few metres, a Q Society volunteer would stop me to ask for my photo ID and media registration form — always an interesting facial expression as they took in the name “Hussein”.

One last obstacle to pass before I could get into the main hall — a 60-something door-bitch armed with a ferocious glare. “You don’t have a wristband. And your name isn’t on the list. You need to understand, we have to have security procedures,” she told me.

“Please, can’t I just go in? I have multiple sclerosis, it’s difficult for me with all these people milling around. If I get bumped, I’ll fall right over. I’ve been through the metal detectors. I don’t have a gun.”

“Mouths can be more dangerous than guns,” she responded.

When I finally got the all-clear, an older white-haired man with a fatherly manner helped me down the steps to my chair in the media zone.

What’s your outlook, coming here tonight?” he asked. I’m here to listen and learn.” He persisted: But your outlook?” Well, I’m Muslim …”

That’s OK. We don’t hate Muslims. But,” he said, sitting me down “we have very heavy security. If you interrupt, or interject, you will be immediately ejected.” He gestured towards my walking stick, my overall physical frailty. “That might injure your back. You wouldn’t want that, would you?”

I’m not here to interrupt,” I protested. “Believe me …”

I’m just telling you. You will be evicted and you might get hurt.” He patted my shoulder. “But I love Muslims.”

I sat back in shock, absorbing the fact this mild-mannered man had just threatened me with assault if I stepped out of line. News Limited papers describe the atmosphere inside the convention centre as “serene”. It felt menacing to me.

There were several young men “of Middle Eastern appearance” — most of them Coptic Christians, to judge by the silver crosses on their collars. There was a bearded and robed Egyptian bishop who would have fit the average Cronulla rioter’s visual preconception of a dangerous Islamic extremist. A man wearing a Jewish kippah.

But of course, it was mostly white people, ranging in age from a teenage girl in school uniform to elderly men with walking sticks. Running the gauntlet past the hostile protesters had generated an esprit de corp among them.

“They laughed at his jokes, applauded his denunciations of Islam, of ‘elites’, of cultural relativism.”

“Welcome. We are glad you are here,” read the Powerpoint above the lectern. And the vibe was hyped-up glad — glad and excited with flashes of terrifying.

The Q Society spokesman finally came on stage to open the formal part of the evening. He began with a preamble which he said was read out at the opening of all their meetings, in recognition of Victoria’s “abhorrent” racial and religious vilification laws. The Q Society wanted to undertake a conversation about Islam, but they respected the rule of law and they did not hate Muslims. If anyone in the audience felt “incited” by the reading out of certain Islamic texts, please leave the venue immediately.

Then Geert Wilders took to the stage to a standing ovation and rock-star reception. The familiar face, the hate-speech, the trademark hair. The audience loved him. They laughed at his jokes, applauded his denunciations of Islam, of “elites”, of cultural relativism.

A woman sitting nearby leapt to her feet with her arms outflung and an expression of almost s-xual rapture across her face when Wilders told the crowd to draw upon the Anzac spirit in the defence of their country against “Islamisation”.

Wilders introduced himself as a visitor from the Old Holland to the New Holland; he said he came to warn us of the danger that had befallen Europe and might befall us too, if we were not vigilant. He said flattering things about the brave members of the Q Society who had hosted him — “the Q society embodies the courage for which Australians are known in Europe” — in defiance of the political elites who had fallen victim to cultural relativism (“even worse than multiculturalism”) and were afraid to stand up against Islam.

The audience loved the denunciation of elites even more than they loved the denunciation of Islam.

He said there were high rates of crime among young Muslims and Moroccan men and “the victims are almost never Muslim”. At talk of the s-xual harassment of young girls, there was a low hiss from the audience.

Referring to the news Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett had said he was not welcome, Wilders said he had Googled the words “not welcome in Western Australia”, which brought up two names: Geert Wilders and US nuclear bases. There was a ripple of laughter from the audience at that.

Wilders closed with what he told us was a message of hope. It was not too late to turn back the tide of Islamisation if we took a few simple steps: halt all immigration from Islamic societies, and find and elect politicians who are not afraid to tell the truth about Islam.

I wondered what was generating the elation in the crowd. Not a sense of victory, surely. Five hundred people or so is a sizeable crowd, but it’s not enough to take over the country. Vanguardism, perhaps. The belief that you were ahead of the pack, that you were part of an advanced cohort who had were combatting a danger that others were yet to recognise.

As a member of the sinister conspiracy in question, it was a relief to go home.

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19 thoughts on “Wilders from the inside, where mouths are ‘more dangerous than guns’

  1. Holden Back

    So, not much about his support for gay marriage?

  2. Warren Joffe

    I wouldn’t want to spend too much time on listening to Wilders of fighting Islam but then I was a bit of a free rider when the Cold War was being won rhetorically as well as physically or economically. However it does seem to be reasonable to use the word “totalitarian” about Islam and to take a second look on the basis that we don’t feel comfortable with too many totalitarians in our midst or in positions of power anywhere, especially if they have oild or nuclear weapons. The Catholic Church is a failed and almost harmless totalitarian organisation. But plenty of powerful Muslims haven’t given up on Islam’s totalitarian claims and aims. That is worth having someone speak the truth about, especially when the Prophet’s moral character was on a par with Hitler’s and he is given such overwhelmingly important status. Should we expect Shia and Sunni to have the long term effect on each other that the Protestant Reformation set off in the mutual enmities of Catholic and Protestant. Well, it’s a start, maybe, but how long do we have to wait, especially when Saudi Wahabism is backed by such huge wealth and Yemen and Saudi Arabia are still both increasing their populations fast by natural means – which means more and more of those particularly dangerous creatures: young men with too little to occupy their time. Time to recruit a few Gurkhas? Not yet perhaps, but Europe may have to go back to them, or a Foreign Legion…..

  3. AR

    Not sure if it was Anthony Eden, or SuperMac at his most patrician, but one of them remarked in the sunset of Raj & Empire that “.. Britain would be Greece to Amerika’s Rome”, serving to ameliorate its excess (something bLIAR claimed)but the similarities between Rome & USofA keep recurring.
    The certain way for a barbarian to become of Roman citizen was to serve in the Legions – similarly it was always possible to fast track US citizenship by joining up.
    This promise was a social adhesive but when armies became only mercenaries, the regime is heading for trouble.

  4. Electric Lardyland

    I’m not sure if I really believe these Q Society people and their claim that they support Australian values. I mean, if they actually valued Australia and Australians so much, why did they feel it necessary to import a bigoted idiot from the Netherlands? I mean, surely we’ve got many homegrown knuckle-dragging, delusional morons, who would only be too happy to go on a ranting tour of the nation.

  5. Gavin Moodie

    Maybe members of the audience were elated at having their anti elite and anti Islam feelings affirmed and expressed.

  6. mikeb

    It’s a pity that the religion of Islam is confused with the politics of Islam. I’m no supporter of Wilders form of commentary but I remember a doco from SBS about the impact of Islamic migration in Holland. A migrant was being interviewed about her attitude to the traditional Dutch way of life and politics – i.e. agnostic, tolerant and liberal. She did not like the Dutch attitude to life and morals and wanted a move to Sharia law in an Islamic state. I can’t remember the exact words but it was this comment that stuck in my mind – “this is our Country now”.

  7. Patrick Brosnan

    I heard a an interview with a Q person on RN. Very soft. The Q ratbag was claiming Shari law in Australia. Actually used the conviction of someone for genital mutilation as an example of how Sharia was present in Australia. Not even two brain cells to rub together.

  8. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    WarrenJ, if you mention Hitler in any discussion of politics or religion you are wasting everyone’s time. So last century. Anyone who considers Islam, the entire religious faith, to be like a monolithic, take-no-prisoners religious crusade, must be stuck in a George Bush fundamentalist Christian guns and money eunuch-led bubble. Neither faith can hold a candle to Democracy for shallow, perverse extremism.

  9. Christopher Nagle

    Oh how very civilized Shakira is. And yes, Wilders sounds a bit wild in his statements, until you start to think about what his happening to Christian minorities in Muslim countries around the world. Ir was no co-incidence that there were Copts at the meeting. They get a lot of stick from Muslims in their home countries.

    I have friends who are connected to the Christian community in Iran. They are having a terrible time.

    I think Shakira that your article is extremely partial in its presentation of opposition to Islam. And that will become obvious when the Muslim community gets a bit bigger. You may find it won’t be quite so reasonable and will feel emboldened to demand things like Sharia law.

    Over my dead body Shakira

  10. Charles Edwards

    What a sniggering, patronising account. That you considered wearing a shalwar kameez – why? To deliberately incite looks and comment so you sit sit back smugly and snigger some more? And the suggestion that the man with white hair threatened you! Paranoid much! He was probably an older conservative traditional Aussie man, a bit paternalistic as they sometimes are, and seeing you with a stick and patting you on the shoulder genuinely concerned for your welfare. You don’t know which and you shouldn’t assume. That you went with a biased mind instead of an open mind to report on this in your role as a journalist is quite worrying. And is it really necessary to make a point about the age of the lady on the door and derogate her with the term “door-bitch”? The people attending this event peacefully, as is their democratic right, were jostled, hassled and loudly insulted by the rentacrowd of student types which are wont to turn out at the drop of a hat to complain about the rights of certain sections of society whilst trampling (literally sometimes) on the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association of the people attending these meetings.