The BBC continues to pretend not to understand.

Geert Wilders has been acquitted of “inciting hatred” because the judges managed to distinguish between annoying/unpleasant/offensive and illegal. The BBC isn’t so sure about that.

With Thursday’s acquittal, it appears that Mr Wilders’s radical words are now more mainstream in a country that for decades was viewed as one of the most liberal and tolerant in the world.

But “liberal” and “tolerant” about what? About Islam, mostly. But there are difficulties with being “liberal” and “tolerant” about Islam, given that Islam itself is not altogether “liberal” and “tolerant.” Many critics of Islam, partly including Wilders, are critics of it because it is not altogether liberal and tolerant, or egalitarian or fair. The BBC’s implied claim that all the liberalism and tolerance are on the side of Islam and all the opposition to liberalism and tolerance are on the side of critics of Islam, is profoundly wrong.

Mr Wilders is an enormously popular politician, his Freedom Party the third
largest in parliament, and many analysts say Thursday’s acquittal will only
boost his popularity in the immigrant-wary Dutch mainstream.

In turn, the government is supporting many of his anti-immigrant positions,
from limiting immigration to banning face-covering attire.

But “immigrant” is not synonymous with Muslim and vice versa. Even if Wilders conflates the two, explicitly or by suggestion, the BBC should not follow his lead. “Face-covering attire” can’t just be reduced to “immigrant” so banning it can’t just be reduced to “anti-immigrant.” Yes there’s overlap and confusion and suspect motivation, but that’s all the more reason to make the distinctions.

“I’m very disappointed,” said one Dutch Moroccan, Zenap al-Garboni, eating a bagel with her children in a restaurant near the courthouse.

“He should not create hate and that’s what he’s doing. He’s creating hate
against Islam.”

Nobody should be required to love Islam.


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