CAIRO – A planned visit by Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders, who is notorious for his anti-Islam slurs, has left the Australian government in a dilemma, amid a climate of tension over Muslim protests against a US film defaming Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
"We don't want to see Geert Wilders in this country,” Greens Senator Richard Di Natale told ABC News on Tuesday, September 18.
“His views are not welcome here.”
Wilders, the leader of the far-right Freedom Party (PVV), is planned to visit Australia next month to give speeches in Sydney and Melbourne.
Wilders’ application for a visa to Australia has stalled, though he applied three weeks ago.
The government is worried that his visit could trigger turmoil in the country, particularly following Muslim protests earlier this week against a US-made film insulting the Prophet.
"We don't think that he should come,” Senator Di Natale said.
“The question of whether he should be granted a visa is a separate one.”
Wilders is on the Movement Alert List, a database of people of concern to Australia.
His visa application is held up at the Department of Immigration headquarters in Canberra while more thorough checks are done.
Wilders is notorious for his rants against Islam and Muslims.
He has also called for banning the Noble Qur’an, describing the Muslim holy book as “fascist”.
In 2008, Wilders released a 15-minute documentary accusing the Qur'an of inciting violence.
The Dutch lawmaker’s visit comes amid tension over a Muslim protest in Sydney against an anti-prophet film degenerated into violence.
However, Australian politicians are worried that denying the Dutch lawmaker a visa would turn Wilders into a hero.
"I think that by denying Geert Wilders a visa, there is the potential to give his cause more oxygen,” Senator Di Natale said.
"We don't want to do that."
Wilders’ visit to Australia is organized by the Q Society, an anti-Islam group that campaigns against what it calls “islamization of Australia”.
"We find it very strange that a visa is taking so long to come from a politician of a respected democracy," the group’s spokesman, Andrew Horwood, said.
"It should be an automatic thing. He's coming here to give the advantage of his knowledge, the advantage of what's happening in Europe, and I cannot see why it's not an automatic thing: 'yes, you're welcome here'.
But Di Natale, the Greens Senator, is concerned that Wilders’ visit would pose a threat to the country’s multiculturalism.
"This country's got a great story when it comes to multiculturalism,” he said.
“It's part of my own personal story, it's something we should all be proud of and here we've got a man who is the antithesis of multiculturalism."
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
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