Friday, November 27, 2009

Far-right politician slams Turkey’s reaction as ‘stupid’

Thursday, November 26, 2009

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
After the government’s harsh reaction to a prospective visit by controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders, a vocal critic of Islam, the European Affairs Committee of the Dutch parliament is expected to review its plans. ‘I only use democratic means, I am sorry; I have nothing to do with racism or fascism,’ Wilders tells the Hürriyet Daily News Far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, a vocal critic of Islam who was declared “unwelcome” by Turkey, said the reaction of the government to his scheduled visit was “stupid.”

“I think it is a very stupid reaction because I am not a racist, I am not a fascist. I am a democratically elected politician representing now one of the most popular parties in Holland,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in a telephone interview Thursday.

Wilders, who leads the Party for Freedom, has plans to join a group of lawmakers from the European Affairs Committee of the Dutch parliament set to visit Turkey on Jan. 4.

Turkey said the Dutch politician is unwelcome. “We reject the views of the person in question. We consider them racist and unacceptable,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Özügergin said this week.

“I only use democratic means, I am sorry; I have nothing to do with racism or fascism. I despise everything that has to do with these kinds of ideologies,” Wilders told the Daily News.

“If this is the point of view of the Turkish government – Turkey, I should say – the Turkish government has no respect for freedom of speech or democracy, and is [itself] a totalitarian government,” he said.

After Turkey’s harsh reaction to Wilder’s prospective visit, which is said to overshadow Turkish-Dutch relations because of the media attention expected to focus on the controversial politician, the Dutch committee is expected to review its plans.

“If the Turkish government will keep its opinion that I am not welcome, I don’t know. I still hope they allow me to enter and also make sure that I will be safe,” said Wilders.

He argued that his problem is with Islamic ideology.

“I have nothing against Muslims. I have nothing against Turkish people. I only have a big problem with the fascist ideology called Islam. This is something that I want to explain, why I see it and what I believe,” said Wilders.

He compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” and said: “I believe the Koran is the new Mein Kampf. I believe that Islam is not so much a religion; it has to be compared with other totalitarian ideologies like communism and fascism.”

The politician said Europe is under the threat of Islamization.

“I fight against the Islamization of our societies in the West. I believe this is a political point of view that I am allowed to make. I am not shouting from far away and hiding behind the corner. I am willing to come to Turkey and explain myself. I cannot be fairer than that,” he said.

His controversial movie about Islam, “Fitna,” which he made last year, drew complaints from the European Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the United States for inciting religious hatred. Turkey said the lawmaker is unwelcome in many European countries.

Wilders said he went to Denmark and Italy and attended a debate on his film in the U.S. Senate, adding the only problem he has so far had was in the United Kingdom.

He was turned away at the airport when he tried to visit Britain in February on grounds he was spreading “hatred and violent messages.” He visited London last month after the ban was overturned by a British court.

EU membership ‘not in 100 million years’

Wilders showed fierce opposition to Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, saying Islamic culture was still dominant in Turkey but unlike Iran, it had a separation of religion and state affairs.

“But this is thanks to the Turkish army. I believe [Prime Minister] Mr. Erdoğan is a very dangerous man. He is dangerous in the way that he wants Islam to have more influence in society,” he said.

As part of the Copenhagen criteria required for full membership in the EU, the military should return to the barracks and not interfere in politics, noted the politician.

“Normally I would agree with that, of course, but for Turkey I will make an exception. I really believe that if Turkey would join the EU, it would be a Trojan horse because then Europe will force the Turkish army to be nonpolitical and to go back into the barracks and I am sure that dangerous people like Mr. Erdoğan will then, without any control of the army, take Turkey in the wrong direction,” he said, describing the army as the “guardian of the legacy of Atatürk.”

Asked if Turkey could one day become a member of the EU, his response was clear: “Not in 100 million years.”

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