Sponsoring Geert


Daniel Pipes doesn’t agree with Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ view that the Koran should be banned. But he does believe Wilders should be able to publicly present that view. That’s why the Middle East Forum’s Legal Project is helping Wilders raise money for his legal defense and sponsored his appearance Wednesday evening at Ahavath Torah Congregation in a Boston suburb.

“I don’t need to agree with him to see the importance of him making his arguments,” said Pipes, the director of MEF, about Wilders, who heads the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and serves in the country’s Parliament. Earlier this month, Wilder was not allowed to enter the United Kingdom due to his criticism of Islam, which included comparing it to Nazism, and last month a Dutch court ruled he could be prosecuted for hate speech.

Pipes said Wilders is an important figure who is part of the discussion about confronting and fighting radical Islam. “If our collective voice is impeded from speaking” or “shut down,” said Pipes, then “the way is paved for radical Islam to move ahead.”

Pipes said he felt hate speech laws, which have also been used to prosecute Holocaust deniers in Europe, are a bad idea.

“I believe in the First Amendment,” he said.

Co-sponsoring Wilders’ appearance, during which he’ll show his anti-radical Islam film “Fitna” and take questions, is the Republican Jewish Coalition. The group’s executive director, Matt Brooks, said his organization had become involved after one of its chapter leaders in the area contacted them about signing on to the event.

Brooks said his organization also doesn’t support Wilders’ Koran ban, but believes he “sheds light on some troubling issues.” Anyone who disagrees, he said, “can go listen to whatever he has to say and ask whatever tough questions you want.”

“If we only had speakers we agree with 100 percent of the time, it would be a very small universe of speakers,” Brooks said.

On Thursday, Wilders is scheduled to be in Washington, where Sen. John Kyl is hosting a showing of Wilders’ film for members of Congress and their staffs.

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