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Amsterdam Gets a Harsh Lesson in Islam 101
by Bruce Bawer
In January 2009 a Dutch court ordered Geert Wilders to be prosecuted for offending Muslims and inciting anti-Muslim hatred. The complaint was based not on slurs, as such, but on factual statements made by Wilders, in his film Fitna and in various public venues, about Islamic beliefs and about actions inspired by those beliefs. In June 2011, after a prolonged legal ordeal that cost Wilders greatly in time, money, and emotion, and that represented a disgrace to the tradition of Dutch liberty, he was finally acquitted.
In February of this year, the Islamic Students Association at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam invited Haitham al-Haddad, a British sharia scholar, to participate in a symposium, but when some of al-Haddad's sophisticated theological statements about Jews (the usual "pigs and dogs" business) and about other topics came to light, members of the Dutch Parliament spoke out against the invitation, a media storm erupted, and VU canceled its plans. Whereupon a venue in Amsterdam called De Balie, which sponsors debates, talks, plays, and sundry cultural and artistic events (and whose café is a good spot to grab a late-morning coffee), stepped in and offered al-Haddad their stage.
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