Who Is Behind the Persecution of Geert Wilders?

Freedom of speech in the West is threatened by the trial of Dutch politician Geert Wilders. But both within and beyond the Netherlands, few people have noticed the political origins of the most enthusiastic supporters of this political witch hunt.

On the website of the Verzetsmuseum in Amsterdam, devoted to the Dutch resistance in World War II, is a poster that found wide circulation in the spring of 2002. It is promotional material for a demonstration -- "Stop de Hollandse Haider" (Stop the Dutch Jörg Haider) -- that was planned for May 11, 2002, in the center of Rotterdam. "Don’t give racism a vote" was another slogan for the event, which was a rally against Pim Fortuyn, the leader of the anti-establishment party LPF.

Fortuyn was finding growing popularity among Dutch voters because of his outspoken opposition to multiculturalism, which was then and still is now the mainstream opinion among Dutch political and cultural elites. Politicians and journalists falsely branded Fortuyn as a Nazi or a fascist because of his critical statements about Islam. They compared him with European politicians like Jean-Marie le Pen (France) and Haider (Austria).

The most vicious attacks came from the "anti-racist" group Nederland Bekent Kleur (NBK, "Colorful Netherlands") and the International Socialists (the Dutch offspring of the Socialist Workers Party, a Trotskyite group from Britain). They were the main organizers of the demonstration in Rotterdam.

They started their campaign against Fortuyn in December 2001 with an article in Socialist, the monthly paper of the International Socialists. It bore the signature of their leader Pepijn Brandon, and René Danen -- then on the Amsterdam city council for a left extremist party, and through the years the boss of NBK. This foundation started in 1992 as a broad coalition of churches, trade unions, and local committees. Over the years it became more Trotskyite, and in 2002 all their board members were connected with different "Trot" groups.

Danen spoke on March 5, 2002, with Trotskyite leader Miriyam Aouragh in Amsterdam, at a meeting titled "How dangerous is Pim Fortuyn?" The evening was staged by "Stop Racisme," a front organization of the International Socialists. Aouragh also heads another front committee called "Samen Tegen Racisme" (Together Against Racism).

The big demonstration against Fortuyn never took place. On May 6, 2002, he was murdered by animal rights activist Volkert van der Graaf. Danen and Aouragh didn’t need to consider the question of how dangerous Pim Fortuyn was any longer.

NBK went into hiding due to the anger of Dutch public opinion. It even canceled its yearly commemoration of Kristallnacht -- a meeting that always drew a misguided parallel between the anti-Semitism of WWII and the so-called "Islamophobia" of our days.

The rise of Geert Wilders, who expresses even more critical opinions about Islam then Fortuyn did, spurred a revival of NBK. In March 2007 it staged, together with the International Socialists, a protest meeting in Amsterdam. One of the invited speakers was Ed van Thijn, the Jewish ex-mayor of Amsterdam. He claimed that the popularity of Wilders threatened to bring us back to the anti-Semitism of last century, as well.

Van Thijn was ill, so his speech was delivered by Miriyam Aouragh. This was rather painful, because she was the featured speaker in March 2004 at a commemoration of the killed Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin -- the founder of a terrorist movement intent on ... bringing back the murderous high-water point of anti-Semitism.

In December 2007 Danen announced a large protest movement against Wilders, composed of his former coalition of mainstream churches, unions, and local groups. Most parties kept their distance, but René Danen found support among actors, comedians, writers, singers, and other Dutch celebrities. For a street demonstration in March 2008, Danen again worked with the International Socialists, who in their press even claimed to be the originators of the manifestation.

The close links between NBK and the International Socialists became clear in November 2008, when Aouragh, in an article for the website Allochtonenweblog, declared her pride at being an activist in both groups. So we get the strange situation where NBK warns against racism and anti-Semitism, and at the same time is a big supporter of the late Sheik Yassin and the leader of an extremist group that supports Hamas and Hezbollah.

Danen and his "anti-racists" collected more then one hundred quotes from Wilders that are supposed to be racist, discriminatory, and hateful. They lodged several complaints against Wilders. The public prosecutor decided not to pursue the case, because the speeches and articles of Wilders stay within the limits of the freedom of speech.

NBK decided to appeal this decision, as did many individuals. A lot of them turned out to be members of the Universitaire Activisten -- another Trotskyite front organization. An appeal was also lodged by the notorious Salafist preacher Fawaz Jneid, who hit the headlines before with vitriolic threats against the later murdered Theo van Gogh and against liberal MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who for her personal safety emigrated to the U.S.

The Court of Appeal then decided that Wilders would indeed be tried, and Dutch freedom of speech and the legality of criticizing Islam are now in danger because the Court caved to an unholy alliance of extreme Muslims and leftists.

In a controversial report about radicalization made for the Dutch minister of the Interior, four researchers labeled Wilders and his PVV as "new right radical." This was meant to mean the same as "extreme right," but without the usual anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi ideology, which Wilders keeps himself miles and miles away from. Earlier versions of the report circulated in the Dutch press, stating that Wilders was even branded as dangerous to the state and an enemy of the system -- labels that sounded familiar in the former Soviet Union but are unusual in a Western democracy like the Netherlands.

Danen applauded all versions of this report. Maybe he was too early with his praise, because one of the researchers also reported on left-wing extremism, specifically on Danen's close friends and allies in the International Socialists. They were described as:

The most important organization of the socialist extreme left. ... During and after the war in Gaza they voiced their pro-Palestinian opinions in rather anti-Semitic ways. In the Netherlands the International Socialists, or individual members of this group, are involved in left-wing actions and street demonstrations, that are often violent or turn out to be violent.

So we have an extreme left political group with violent and anti-Semitic antecedents as a political frontrunner in a trial, threatening to suppress freedom of speech. Violence and anti-Semitism are just two indicators of the "rightist" extremism that the researchers could not detect in Wilders.

Media in the Netherlands focuses on Wilders yet seldom writes about the far left origins of his most active political opponent in this trial. The bashers of the murdered Pim Fortuyn are exactly the same people as the political persecutors of Geert Wilders. And a joint poster created by NBK and the International Socialists -- one of them threatening the Dutch freedom of speech, the other supporting the biggest anti-Semites of our times -- have found a place in the Dutch Resistance Museum. For in the dark years of 1940-1945, the Dutch Resistance had exactly the opposite goals -- restore freedom and chase away the anti-Semites.