He has advocated a ban on the Qur’an. He’s opposed mosque construction. He’s tried to outlaw Muslim headscarves. And now he’s coming to Washington. Geert Wilders, the leader of a xenophobic political party in the Netherlands, will address members of Congress at events in late April 2015. At the invitation of Iowa Republican Steve King and Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, who has warned of Muslim “terror babies,” Wilders will speak at two receptions, one of which is hosted by a conservative group founded by Newt Gingrich. Wilders will then travel to Texas, where he will join the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, to present their $10,000 prize for a cartoon of Islam’s prophet. AFDI is the group behind “Ground Zero Mosque,” the inflammatory bus and subway ads in American cities, and the anti-sharia legislation introduced in over half of American states. Wilders’ connections with the American Islamophobia network go even deeper. As Yasmine Taeb wrote in a piece for Think Progress, Wilders also spoke at the “Annual Restoration Weekend” hosted by Islamophobic activist David Horowitz. He said,
“Islam is eating away our Judeo-Christian and humanist civilization and [is] replacing it with intolerance, hatred, and violence.” He further stated: “Of course there are many moderate Muslims. I believe in moderate people, but I do not believe in a moderate Islam. There is only one Islam – the Islam of the Koran, the Hadith and the life of Muhammad, who was a terrorist and a warlord. But even though there are many moderate Muslims, it is wrong to think that the moderates are a majority. They are not.”
Wilder’s visit to the U.S. should highlight not only his Islamophobic rhetoric, but also the deep connections that bind together individuals and activists working to normalize his problematic positions. You can read more of Taeb’s piece at Think Progress.