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Sunday 21 December  
Geert Wilders and Park Place, New York
Hans de Vreij's picture
New York, United States of America
New York, United States of America

Wilders: I’ll decide whether I visit Ground Zero

Published on : 10 August 2010 - 3:46pm | By Hans de Vreij (Photo: ANP)
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Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders’ plan to make a speech at Ground Zero has sparked a minor political row. On 11 September a protest meeting will be held at the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York against the construction of an Islamic centre nearby.

Geert Wilders has become a celebrated guest in some US circles. For instance with media and politicians who share his opposition to Islam. 
"We cannot escape from totalitarian ideologies that want to destroy us. Well, the totalitarian ideology that wants to destroy our freedom today unfortunately is the Islam, and we should stand up and fight it."
In political circles in The Hague, there is widespread irritation about his plan to make a speech at Ground Zero in New York, where 3,000 people were killed when Muslim extremists flew hijacked planes into the two towers of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001.

The Dutch politician will address demonstrators protesting against the construction of an Islamic centre only a few blocks from the 9/11 site. Mr Wilders has been invited by the organisation Stop Islamization of America, which is supported by a number of conservative US politicians including Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.
New-found importance
There is nothing new about Geert Wilders’ opposition to Islam. What is new is his new-found political clout since his party gained more seats than any other in the June general elections. The formation of a new Dutch government will be difficult, if not impossible, without his support. The outgoing Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen called on Mr Wilders to restrain himself at the New York meeting. The Freedom Party leader reacted by saying:
"We have agreed that, on the one hand, I will keep speaking my mind. About Islam, about New York and also about that terrible mosque which is being built there. And Mr Verhagen, in turn, can say what he wants to say about that, also when he disagrees. It’s a practical agreement 'to agree to disagree', and that is fine”. 
The construction of the new Islamic centre in New York is supported by a wide variety of organisations and prominent citizens, varying from organisations of relatives of 9/11 victims and Islamic and Jewish organisations to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The people who took the initiative for the new centre say they want to build a bridge between Islam and the West, and more in particular between Muslims and Americans.
However, opponents say it’s unacceptable that an Islamic centre should be built so close to Ground Zero.

"This is an insult; this is demeaning, this is humiliating that you would build a shrine to the very ideology that inspired the attacks of 9/11."
Dutch support
A juicy detail is that the Dutch foreign ministry is indirectly footing the bill for part of the new Islamic centre in New York. The ministry has earmarked 1 million euros for a women’s project by the American Society for Muslim Advancement.

American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA)
The Cordoba Initiative



Matt C. 13 August 2010 - 11:38am / foreign

I can see why Maxime Verhagen would want to keep all the money they are sending quiet. After all all this Dutch tax payers cash was only supposed to create Islamic votes for the CDA. It was never intended to be known by the average Dutch tax payer and most certainly not meant to be known by the average American.
You see American citizens could get the idea that Dutch people are hostile to their interests but thankfully Mr. Wilders will be there to explain that not all Dutch people are as treasonous or worthless as the CDA. As a result the reputation of the Netherlands will be saved in the eyes of Americans who might otherwise fly off the handle and hate the Netherlands. Americans are "touchy" folk Mr. Wilders will smooth it over.

presley 11 August 2010 - 6:49pm / US

I would be happy to put up Mr. Wilders if I lived in NY. finally, someone has the BALLS to visit a sight and remind the world that the ignorance of a whole population of people....oh woops, only 50% because women are just property and dont count, that the world need be wary of these medieval wanderers who have managed to abandon their hellish towns and countries and invade less primitive lands. Isnt it amazing to you all that the Muslims do NO public charity work in their own towns, nor have any form of welfare or social service. Mr. Wilders figured that out and has tried to remind Holland that the Euros arent there for every immigant to cash in on especialy when they refuse to learn the language, become educated or strive to make their culture more profitable and successful ....especialy for women. Islam loves a sucker and western europe is it!!

David Berridge 11 August 2010 - 4:54pm / Canada

This is truly a double edeged sword Geert is playing with, having to go and protest a facilty in New York the Dutch government he wishes to be a part of and later run, already placing one million euros in the project. However, go to New York Geert not only will, but has to, dur to the fact that not going would tarnish his image among those who have and do now furnish Geert with plenty of undeclared contributions. The potential to increase these funds is enormous, as well as to enhance his stature being seen with well known political figures associated with movements such as the Boston Tea Party. Hypocriscy has never stopped Geert before, and playing on the ignorance of his audience as to the extent of the Netherlands' official support of what he is protesting, is what Geert will atempt with gusto to a target market who won't bother to contradict him as long as they get to hear what pleases them.

Annefloor 11 August 2010 - 4:07pm / USA

As a Dutch, I am very disappointed that Wilders really feels that he, as a Dutch politician, has to play a role in this all. Thanks Azim for pointing out that we support the women's project of the American Society for Muslim Advancement. It shows that not everybody is as tunnel visioned and stubborn as Wilders is.

Azim 11 August 2010 - 1:46pm / nl.

Dutch support :A juicy detail is that the Dutch foreign ministry is indirectly footing the bill for part of the new Islamic centre in New York. The ministry has earmarked 1 million euros for a women’s project by the American Society for Muslim Advancement.

I am very pleased and thankful for that because it is a very thoughtful and sincere Dutch response to a need, and is a true reflection of the well intentioned of majority of citizens of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Azim 11 August 2010 - 1:25pm / nl.

No matter how Wilders seems would like to look or sound to others, i am sure of one thing :he is disguised by all wise, educated, conscientious, and free moslims, jews, christians, and human beings.

Sean 11 August 2010 - 12:33pm / USA

Manipulating America's greatest tradgedy to fan the flames of anti-Islamic bigotry is shameful. Please send Maxima instead.

sandraV 11 August 2010 - 5:33am / Nederland

For one thing, Wilders has every right to speak out on the behalf of victims families from the 9/11 terrorist attack and he has the right to say what he wants to say, that is part of the first ammendment right in the USA, everyone has the right to free speech and for CDA to make such a big to do about it, is so ridiculous. Wilders hasn´t said anything that hasn´t already been heard by the whole world, nor has he said anything worse then your average republican politician in the United States or any worse then other anti Islamic politicians in Europe. New York is historical and has a long history, especially for Dutch people since that was originally our land to begin with!

Anonymous 12 August 2010 - 1:41am / Lalaland

"Your land" was owned by the Iroquois Confederacy and the Lenape tribe! It was not originally Dutch land!

Arnt 11 August 2010 - 10:59am / The Hague, The Netherlands

"New York is historical and has a long history, especially for Dutch people since that was originally our land to begin with!"

Our land, really? Sorry, but can't let that one get by unchallenged. I don't know the name of the native nation that inhabited the area ORIGINALLY, but the Dutch only worked their way in a lot later, later by several thousands of (undocumented) years.
Besides that, Wilders doesn't necessarily speak out in behalf all the victims' families. There have been vocal supporters from that particular group as well. He's mostly there to promote himself at the cost of other peoples' tagedies.

You're right about one thing: he won't have anything new to tell to the world.

Hiram2 11 August 2010 - 5:10pm / USA

" He's mostly there to promote himself at the cost of other peoples' tagedies. ".....It doesn't make any difference if is or is not promoting himself. What makes a difference is the message he gives to the public when he does speak. You too are right when you stated "You're right about one thing: he won't have anything new to tell to the world." Why? Because the Muslim Jihadists are are still murdering people in the name of Islam. Just a few days ago, several people were murdered/executed by Muslims because they believed the people were teaching Christianity. The Islamic belief system is dangerous and Wilders needs to keep on telling the world of it's dangers before it is too late. Wilders, please don't give-up on the fight.

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