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Wednesday 17 September  
Wilders Sakharov prize recipient?
Tijn Sadée's picture
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Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg, France

Does Wilders deserve the Sakharov prize?

Published on : 7 July 2010 - 7:32pm | By Tijn Sadée (Photo: ANP)
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Is anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders a champion of freedom of speech? "He deserves the Sakharov prize," says his Freedom Party, the PVV. "An insult" counters the Labour Party.
 
Wearing an orange tie, the leader of the PVV in the European Parliament, Barry Madlener, is waiting in one of the parliament's corridors for Radio Netherlands Worldwide's monthly radio debate to begin. Christian Democrat MEP Wim van de Camp, standing next to him, is becoming impatient. “Shall we start without him then?” “Him” is Labour MEP Thijs Berman, the third participant. As it turns out, he is still jogging in a park in Strasbourg.

To kill time, Mr Madlener, whispering, tells me he has a scoop which will “stun” his opponents. Mr Berman finally shows up, running, still in jogging outfit. People raise their eyebrows. “Daft Dutch.”
 
Promised scoop
The studio engineer counts down and the recording begins. Berman and Madlener still chat about Holland's victory in the semi-finals in the World Cup, which they watched together in a bar in Strasbourg. The PVV MEP then reveals his scoop.

“Today we're going to nominate our party leader, Geert Wilders, for the Sakharov prize.” His opponents are stunned with disbelief. Van de Camp considers it inappropriate. Berman is furious. “An insult.”

The prize, named after the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, is awarded annually by the European Parliament to individuals and organisations that have contributed significantly to freedom of speech. Previous recipients of the Sakharov Prize include Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Last year it went to the Russian human rights organisation Memorial.

Outrageous
Berman: “It's outrageous to abuse Sakharov's name, a man who was exiled for years. You want to compare that man with Geert Wilders? Wilders who wants to achieve the opposite of everything Sakharov fought for?

Madlener deflects Berman's attack. “It is precisely Islam's ideology which represses freedom of speech, and Geert fights that ideology. He is even risking his life.”
 
Selective
Only Van de Camp remains cool-headed. Introducing some nuance, he argues that the PVV is free to put Wilders forward. “But Geert is extremely selective when it comes to freedom of speech. “Wilders is extremely tolerant towards Israel, and needlessly disparaging towards Muslims.”

Bad joke?
One hour after the radio debate, the news spreads across Strasbourg. Tweets and emails sent by MEPs from across Europe all say more or less the same thing: “Is this a bad joke?”

Is the PVV trying to provoke people?
Madlener: "Absolutely not."
Berman: "Of course they are! For the umpteenth time."

Listen to the complete “Who is afraid of Brussels” debate led by Europe correspondent Tijn Sadée.

 

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide
 

 

Discussion

Sakharov 15 September 2010 - 10:19pm / Russia

Is this serious? He deserves a kick in the ass!

maxilo 13 July 2010 - 2:56am / luxemburg

Bashing Wilders is easy, but so far no one has been able to dismantle his argument, and no one ever will, since he is telling the truth about islamic orthodoxy. Islam is a totalitarian ideology that strives to implement sharia law, it must be defeated. Period.

dd1806 8 July 2010 - 7:29pm / USA

Off hand I can't think of anyone who has made a stronger stand for freedom of speech in general, than Wilders. All his critics can demonise and distort all they want, but they can't change the simple truth, that in much of Europe a person can go to prison or have their assets taken for merely expressing an opinion. Not defamation, incitment to violence, obscenity or causing public panic (the time tested tradition exceptions to freedom of speech based on centuries of deliberations), just expressing a politically incorrect opinion. Nothing his critics say can change that simple truth.

truthywood 8 July 2010 - 10:41pm / Turkey

Yes Hitler also used his freedom of expression some time.

dd1806 9 July 2010 - 1:07am / USA

I never really understood that argument. Are you saying that because Hitler was vile and said vile things, we should therefore abolish freedom of speech?

Anonymous 8 July 2010 - 8:14pm / NL

Dear Dd1806,

Could you give ONE example of someone thrown in jail of having their assets taken for just expressing an opinion?

Thank you.

dd1806 8 July 2010 - 11:03pm / USA

Uh... did you not hear about Geert Wilder's trial? OK technically he's not in jail yet, as if that makes it OK. So Bridget Bardot, just to name one other. She's been fined repeatedly.

Even if no one goes to jail, it's the threat that's important. Don't you think the threat of legal fees alone is enough to make any sane person think twice about speaking freely? The prosecution of Mark Steyn and McClean's magazine is a good illustration of the nuances of this tyranny, in my opinion.

Vera Gottlieb 8 July 2010 - 5:57pm / Germany

If Obama can get the Nobel Prize and has the audacity to declare that "war is peace", then why not a prize for Wilders? Isn't hate- and fear mongering what the 21st century seems to be all about? If we don't have enemies, we just invent them.

towelhead 8 July 2010 - 4:00pm

Islam is a crime against ALL humanity.

"Muslims must kill non-believers wherever they are unless they convert to Islam." - Ali Gom’a (grand mufti of Egypt, the highest Muslim religious authority in the world, Al Ahram, April 7, 2008) source: http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/8066

In an Al-Jazeera survey on September 11, 2006, 49.9% of the respondents avowed that they did indeed support Osama bin Laden. source: http://tinyurl.com/ys6w42

35% of Egyptians and Saudis say that supporting jihad is Islamic duty. source: http://tinyurl.com/yzl3thz

Wilders Akbar!

Anonymous 8 July 2010 - 6:00am / Sweden

I don't think he is doing to provoke people. Why would anyone want to kill themselves by provoking some cult group like Islam?

I think there is truth in what he says.....

Anonymous 8 July 2010 - 3:14am / Lalaland

He deserves the most stinking dunghill prize!

Anonymous 8 July 2010 - 3:14am / Lalaland

He deserves the most stinking dunghill prize!

David Berridge 8 July 2010 - 1:53am / Canada

This publicity stunt is a prelude to Geert being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. For the Sakarov award to be legitimate, Geert should have had other people besides his cronies to make the nomination.The ultimate insult here has been caused to the people of the Netherlands for appearing to be diplomatic blunderers. Of course, with the national football side going to the championship final match, this is a cruel form of manipulating the emotions of the Dutch. Now is really the time for the facebook group who apologized for those who voted PVV, to get back online and speak against this outrage in no uncertain terms. The Dutch Parliament should offically denounce this act by one of the political parties elected to this chamber, as well as to the general public, that such an audacity could be committed in the name of democracy in the Netherlands.

Sebastian 8 July 2010 - 1:48am / Netherlands

I would love to listen to the complete “Who is afraid of Brussels” debate - but where is it?

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