Saturday, March 22, 2008

De Winter: Geert Wilders Is a Bigot

De Winter: Geert Wilders Is a Bigot
by Ellen de Visser

AMSTERDAM - TV Producer Harry de Winter, President of the board of the foundation Een Ander Joods Geluid [Another Jewish Voice], today placed a remarkable advertisement on the front page of the newspaper Volkskrant.  De Winter puts Geert Wilders's criticism of Muslims in the same category as anti-Semitism.

See below the de Winter ad (click to enlarge)
Als Wilders hetzelfde over Joden (en het Oude Testament) had gezegd als wat hij nu over Moslims (en de Koran) uitkraamt, dan was hij allang afgeserveerd en veroordeeld wegens antisemitisme.
"If Wilders had said the same thing about Jews (and the Old Testament) as he does about Muslims (and the Koran), he would have been ostracized a long time ago and accused of anti-Semitism."

What is your message?

"We Jews know better than anyone else what this sort of discrimination can lead to.  Wilders claims that the Muslims must be dealt with and that the Koran is a fascist book.  That's how the persecution of Jews once started, by generalization.  Therefore, it is time for a sharper criticism from the Jewish community.  If you say the same thing about the Jews or Israel, you are considered an anti-Semite and ostracized.  It is good that this feeling of justice is so strong, but, for me, there is no difference between the yarmulke and the headscarf."

What impact does this generalization have, in your view?

"When I talk with Muslims, I see that they are hardly preoccupied with the question of faith, but because of Wilders they feel compelled to take a position.  Either they live in fear or they harden and radicalize.  Last week it became too much for me.  Muslims are pushed to the brink, and that is dangerous.  The Muslim community itself, moreover, must also publicly speak out against terrorism."

What do you hope to achieve?

"I hope that we will get support from the whole Jewish community.  At least that's how it should be.  Because we can recognize this problem like no one else."

Harry de Winter Speaks

Demo against Racism, 22 March 2008, Amsterdam

5,000 people, despite the rainy weather, participated in the demonstration.  The protest focused, among other issues, on the discriminatory views of the "Party for Freedom" (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV). Photo by Nederland Bekent Kleur

The original interview in Dutch was published in Volkskrant on 17 March 2008.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.  The Muslim community in the Netherlands are heartened by Harry de Winter and other progressive Jews' solidarity: Michel Hoebink, "Dutch Muslims Surprised by Anti-Wilders Ad," Radio Netherlands, 17 March 2008.

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