After a stirring show of speech, Wilders remains unwelcome

Geert Wilders’ visit to set off a domino effect’s worth of emotions, speech, debate and hate-mail.

Geert Wilders’ visit to set off a domino effect’s worth of emotions, speech, debate and hate-mail.

Anti-Islamic former Dutch parliamentarian and current leader of the Party for Freedom Geert Wilders caused quite the ruckus when he came to campus last Tuesday.Picture 5

“I know that some of you here were very much against me speaking tonight, and to those that opposed me coming here, I would to like to quote the very famous British author George Orwell,” Wilders said in his opening, “‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’”

It’s not that Temple students didn’t want Wilders to exercise his right to “tell people what they do not want to hear,” but they didn’t want to hear hateful rhetoric, which – instead of proposing a diplomatic solution – proposed the eradication of a religious group. Not to mention they didn’t want Temple to be the first United States institution to let him do so.

Advertisement for the event upset students, with its “no backpack” policy, written by TUPurpose Chairperson Brittany Walsh, a senior social work major.

“We were bringing a speaker whose life is at risk every single day, so this was set up for his safety,” Walsh said.

Walsh may not have understood students’ concern for the safety issue, but the real issue students had was with Wilders’ statements.

Wilders claims to make a distinction between “the people and the ideology” of Islam, but when he spouts hateful statements, such as “Western culture is far better than the Islamic culture, and we should defend it,” he counteracts his alleged distinction. It marks the people who practice the Islamic faith as the enemy, giving these defenders of the West someone to wrongfully hate.

Throughout his speech, Wilders warned against the Islamic “threat to freedom” while being observed by the namesake of the organization, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, who paid to have him speak.

The event, albeit controversial, wouldn’t have caused as much of a commotion had it not been for Horowitz exacerbating the situation when he posted the e-mail address of Temple Muslim Student Association’s president, Monira Gamal-Eldin, on his Web site Oct. 15.

As a result, the senior international business and risk management major received hate mail in her inbox.

Despite receiving messages like, “go back to the sandbox you came from,” Eldin is soldiering on and working on an upcoming event to help people understand the meaning of Islam.

“He’s demonizing a group of people, making us feel like we are the enemy when we’ve been raised in these countries, when we’ve been part of the American society,” she said. “That’s where the line between free speech and hate speech comes into play.”

And Wilders definitely comes across as trying to demonize Muslims. In his anti-Islamic documentary, Fitna, Wilders presents the growth of the number of Muslim citizens in the Netherlands from 1909 to 2004 in a bar graph. The increasing bars treat the growth of the Muslim population as an awful epidemic, essentially dehumanizing them.

Wilders uses the Muslim immigration to Europe throughout the years to gain notoriety and exploit the fear of a sector of European society, said William Hitchcock, chair of the history department.

“A few Western Europeans, especially politicians, view immigration as a wedge issue,” Hitchcock said. “They don’t know how to deal with it.”

“There are few people who will exploit that concern and fear for a [political purpose], and this guy is merely one of them,” he added.

What ever the political reasons for his claims, the fact is Wilders made hateful and threatening statements toward a group of people that makes up part of Temple’s student body.

Although some students shouted personal opinions instead of asking questions at the event, many impassioned attendees did everything in their power to engage Wilders in dialogue and defend Islam.

In doing so, Temple students proved they were aware of his tactics and that hate is not a value with which Temple will be associated.

Josh Fernandez can be reached at


  1. Wilders did not ask anybody to identify themselves with an ideology to such an extent that they cannot tell the difference between the two anymore. Hopefully sooner than later enough Muslims will realize that there are enough uncouth and inhumane elements to Islam to warrant drastic changes either within or outside of Islam, just like the protestants did with the RC church. Wilders is only pointing out the bleeding obvious (no pun intended) and since no changes for the better can be detected from the outside, he has my blessing and full support to do so at nauseum.

    Are you comfortable defending an ideology who pro-pones the inequality between men and women and who’s prophet was a paedophile and murderer? Would you dare to confront your Muslim friends with these facts ans ask their views? If not, you cannot call yourself a friend, because friends would do so.

  2. Geert Wilders has my support body, mind, and soul . His case is very important and I wish it would be a lesson to all of us. What happens when a society is so tolerant, so welcomeing, so accomodating to any certtain group of people from another country Etc. and they , rather than appreciate, take advantage of the host country’s generousity. The Muslim immigrants grow more and more demanding and expect special privleges , and when they don’t have everything their own way, they become a threat to all society with their complaints , riots and overbearing outrage.

    Britain was undoubtably intimidated, either that or they are going off the deep end trying to prove they are tolerant and welcome diversity. They will suffer from that attitude, and so will all of us. Geert Wilders is a wonderful brave man, a courageous man, he has the guts and respect for rights and freedom that too many don’t have nowaday. People are too worried about appeasing religious fanatics.

    And YES , YES , YES–ISLAM IS an inferior ideology –! It is dark-ages stuff from the past , backward, prejudiced, unfair to women, believes in a religious law that totally sucks . How can you say a religion that believes that women are at fault when they get raped is on the same level as one that sympathizes for women who get violated ? Why don’t YOU spread the tyruth about Islam ? The awful truth ! Don’t talk to people about respecting Islam !! Islam is barbaric- would you want an honor-killing in YOUR neighborhood ? Hurray for Geert Wilders–he’s a HERO !!! SHOW HIM RESPECT !! FOOLS !!

  3. bob23bob and Dee Ward thank you for taking a stand. Because we have been silent for too long some believe that we do not exists and that the way is open for them to suppress our voices in the name of tolerance and diversity. Tolerance and diversity should be for every one.

    The person who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
    —Chinese proverb

  4. I grew up in the late sixties and graduated from college (a liberal arts college) in 1978. This was a time well before the curse of multiculturalism began to creep into our lives. Words like ‘diversity’ and ‘tolerance’ and ‘hate-speech’ are repugnant as they manifest a growing disease, a cancer that is growing the in the minds of the young and impressionable and the chronically disaffected. The best advice, I believe, that I or anyone else can give you is to study history – go back as far as you choose. You will find re-occurring patterns and cycles of events, over and over and over … What does it all mean? Good and evil are not abstractions and human nature has not changed a whit since the beginning of recorded history.

    Telling the truth, about anything, is not hate speech. Wilder’s is not advocating hatred towards ‘the religion of peace’, or anyone else. If anyone is advocating or preaching hate, 24,7,365 it is the ‘religion of peace’ towards … well everyone it seems. In my opinion, a factual statement and not meant to be hateful

  5. This is a ridiculous article. “Hateful rhetoric” is apparently the new code word for what people “do not want to hear.” It never ceases to amaze that if someone speaks out against death threats, fatwas and jihad, THEY are considered the villain. Shocking that you can keep a straight face.

  6. Joshua, I appreciate that you are not indifferent to what goes on in social and political issues, but please get more information about the things that you stand for. Radical Muslims or “moderate” Muslims who do not protest the violence of their religion cannot be good for a civilized and free world. You have the potential to do great things; therefore, get more informed on all the sides of the issues that you care for so you can make educated and wise choices on what you want to stand for and to make a difference.

  7. Josh Fernandez in his column criticizing Geert Wilder’s speech at Temple wrote that “It’s not that Temple students didn’t want Wilders to exercise his right to ‘tell people what they do not want to hear,’ but they didn’t want to hear hateful rhetoric…” Anyone who didn’t want to hear Mr. Wilders simply could have not shown up at his talk, Temple students wanted to silence Mr. Wilders. Fernandez accused Wilders of wanting to “eradicate a religious group.” Anyone who would have gone to the talk would have found out that Wilders advocated no such thing. That is why we need free speech so we can hear the truth for ourselves. Fernandez objected to the Geert Wilder’s statement that ““Western culture is far better than the Islamic culture, and we should defend it.”

    I have a personal experience that leads me to agree with the above statement of Mr. Wilders. About a year ago I was traveling in India. Two weeks after I returned to Philadelphia a boat of 10 Muslim terrorists landed on the coast of Mumbai and split up into groups and opened fire with machine guns in different parts of the city. Two of them made their way to a hard to find house called the Chabad house and tortured to death the people there. I knew two of the people they tortured to death Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rifka, and they were the nicest most giving people you could possibly meet. Many in the Islamic world applauded the Mumbai attack. Al-Jazeera’s website overflowed with comments such as “Allah, grant victory to Muslims. Allah, grant victory to jihad” and “The killing of a Jewish rabbi and his wife in the Jewish center in Mumbai is heartwarming news.”

    The Chabad organization in contrast called upon people to do good deeds to bring light into a very dark world.

    Which is superior, Josh Fernandez, the hate filled rants of Muslims on the Al Jazeera web site or the efforts by the Chabad organization to spread light in the world.

  8. In all honesty, Mr. Josh Fernandez hasn’t been in the real world yet and still lives in the myopic world that is the modern university. We can’t judge them because they live over there. Right Josh? No such thing as evil because we aren’t allowed to judge them. Josh? Anything? Name one good thing about living under theocratic rule. Just one. Women are treated like slaves and at best property. Under a muslim society, you Josh wouldn’t be able to write the things you write because that would be heresy. Please Josh enlighten us as to why we shouldn’t agree with Geert Wilders when you don’t actually defend any of the horrible things that Muslim societies perpetrate on their citizens. Evil prevails when good me do nothing. Geert Wilders is doing something.

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