Freedom Commissioner Tim Wilson backs visit of anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders. Tim Wilson, Freedom Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission. Photo: Louie Douvis
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The federal government’s “Freedom Commissioner”, Tim Wilson has backed the decision to grant Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders a visa to visit .

But Treasurer Scott Morrison says the controversial MP – like anyone who visits – should not “import the debates from overseas” and should treat all ns with respect.

And Muslim community advocate Rebecca Kay said sections of the Muslim community viewed Mr Wilders as a “hate preacher” and the decision to grant him a visa will damage the governments’ de-radicalisation efforts.

Mr Wilders is due to launch on October 20 in Perth the n Liberty Alliance, a new political party campaigning against the “Islamisation” of n and which wants a visa ban on citizens from the 56 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.

The decision to allow Mr Wilders into the country prompted Lebanese Muslim Association president Samier Dandan to ask Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to consider reversing the decision because the Dutch MP was “someone we know who will stir the pot, increase anti-Islamic sentiment and feed into those who seek to divide us”.

But Mr Wilson told Fairfax Media that although he disagreed with Mr Wilders’ views on Islam, he should be allowed into the country on freedom of speech grounds.

“No one should be denied a visa for for expressing opinions it’s legal to express. The fact of the matter is that immigration is an entirely legitimate policy issue to debate,” he said.

“I don’t agree with him, his views or his values, but you never need to defend free speech for the excessive use of please and thank you – it’s only when people cross the line of social acceptability.

“If he breaks the law while in n than the full force of the law should be thrown at him – but that doesn’t comer from just being present here.”

Mr Morrison told Fairfax radio station 2GB he believed Mr Wilders, as an MP himself, would be quite conscious of the need not to come to another country and “stir up trouble”.

“I think a lot of things are said about what he says, he will come here and speak for himself. And I think it is really important, whoever comes to our country, that they don’t import the debates from overseas. We have our own discussion going on here, the comparison to things that are occurring in the UK and Europe, it doesn’t strictly translate to our n situation,” he said.

“I think it is really important that when people come they treat ns, all ns, with respect and really pay tribute to the strong cohesive society that we have and do nothing to disrupt that.”

Ms Kay said the decision to grant the visa would make it harder to want to engage in political debate “when I feel like this is another attack on our community”.

“We’re just asking for clear lines. If an anti-abortion campaigner’s visa is denied because of the fear of repercussions on women then why is it okay to allow a man who demonises a whole community?”

Mr Dandan, in turn, had questioned why singer Chris Brown had been denied a visa but Mr Wilders’ had been granted.

Mr Wilson, however, said there was a clear distinction as Mr Brown had been denied a visa for his criminal past whereas “Wilders has been engaged in robust public debate”.

Ms Kay said the sentiment in the community was “disappointment” and many Muslim women were fearing a rise in abuse and Islamophobic rhetoric when Mr Wilders arrives.

“We see him as a hate preacher,” she said. “And by granting him a visa, it sends a message that in some way the government agrees with what he preaches. It feels like the government believes he has some merit in what he’s saying.”

She said denying Mr Wilders a visa would be a huge symbolic step in repairing much of the damage former PM Tony Abbott had done to relations with the Muslim community.

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