Freedom of expression is under attack. This is a theme I am addressing here in America this week as part of the Free Speech Summit being held in Florida under the sponsorship of the Florida Security Council. And it is clear that a serious discussion of the threats to our freedoms in the West cannot come too soon.
For example, my friend Rep. Adam Hasner, the majority leader of the Florida House of Representatives was attacked in a press release issued by the national office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Monday for daring to appear at a private event with me this past weekend. Because of that appearance, CAIR is demanding that Rep. Hasner step down or be removed from his position.
This attack on a friend and fellow legislator is of grave concern to me. CAIR's assault on Rep. Hasner strikes at the very heart of our most basic freedoms. In fact, it is but the latest episode in that organization's long-running and determined effort to silence its critics. Indeed, CAIR seeks to suppress all those who dare to challenge the theo-political-legal program that authoritative Islam calls "Shariah." In so doing, they are seeking to impose what amount to Shariah blasphemy codes.
It is especially important to note that Adam Hasner is not only being attacked for comments he made that are deemed offensive by those who seek to impose Shariah in America. His career is now being threatened for comments made by others in his presence - in this case, by me. Thus the Islamists are infringing not only on this country's constitutionally protected freedom of expression but also freedom of association.
If a high-ranking public official - elected by the people and appointed to his leadership position by his peers - cannot speak honestly and openly about his concerns, and do so in places and the company of his choosing, without fear of suppression or other retribution, who among us is safe?
I know these threats firsthand. Even before the international release last year of my short documentary film, Fitna, I have faced constant death threats and protests. My name has appeared on assassination lists. I have been subject of an Al-Qaeda death fatwa. I will be charged with blasphemy and contempt of Muslims by Jordanian prosecutors. I face prosecutions in my own country and elsewhere. I was recently banned from the United Kingdom because the Home Secretary believed my mere presence in the country constituted a national security threat.
In this trying time let us recall that in the darkest hours of World War II, when the world faced a global threat from German Nazism, Italian Fascism and Japanese Imperialism, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill challenged his people to rise to the occasion and fight. He told them, "Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
This is why I am in America this week talking about the fight we now must wage in the West to defend our liberties. Freedom of association is one of the basic liberties guaranteed not only by the US Constitution but by the European Convention of Human Rights. And yet CAIR wants to silence and punish Rep. Hasner for associating with me. If America needs a poster child for the threat to our freedoms from Islamic extremism, no better example than CAIR could be found.
This episode underscores that the threat to freedom posed by creeping Shariah imposed by CAIR's type of stealthy jihad is not just a problem in the Middle East, or Europe. It is also a problem in America.
I will not be bullied by Islamic thugs who want to use our freedoms to destroy those very same freedoms. And I will not stand by as they seek to do it to others.
Founded and directed by members of the international network of the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR has an explicit agenda to subvert our freedoms and impose Islamic Shariah law on non-Muslims. This is not speculation on my part. This is the testimony of one of CAIR's founders and chairman emeritus, Omar Ahmed, who told a California audience in 1998 that this was their agenda. "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant," he said. "The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth." When CAIR officials say that this is their ultimate objective, we should believe them.
In just the past few weeks, the Council on American Islamic Relations has sought to silence another courageous lawmaker, Rep. Peter King, the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee in the US House of Representatives. His "offense"? Rep. King correctly observed that CAIR and other Muslims were not providing enough assistance to the law enforcement authorities in combating terrorism-related activities in American mosques.
CAIR has attempted to silence other critics, as well. They have sued bloggers; they have defamed journalists who have asked too many questions about their terrorist ties; and they have tried to intimidate publications that have published articles challenging their putative "civil rights mission." If they get away with it, CAIR will seek to threaten the careers of more politicians with the courage to say things and associate with those of challenge Shariah and the effort to impose it in this country.
It is utterly hypocritical that, on the one hand, CAIR claims to be defending freedom of religion in attacking Rep. Hasner when, on the other, they actively seek support from Islamic regimes that are among the worst of the worst human rights abusers on the planet - and notorious for suppressing religious freedoms.
I have been told that in an Arabic News article that CAIR officials have solicited and received financial support from Saudi Prince Al-Walid Bin Talal, whose country outlaws any religious expression except its own Wahhabi strain of Islam. You can't even own a Bible or wear a cross in the country run by their patrons, and yet CAIR wants to lecture us about religious freedom?
The land for CAIR's Capitol Hill office in Washington D.C. was purchased with a $250,000 donation from the Saudi-backed Islamic Development Bank and the deed to their headquarters is held by the foundation of United Arab Emirates Defense Minister Gen. Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. Sheik al-Maktoum's country prohibits any non-Islamic religious proselytizing and threatens anyone caught with distribution of non-Muslim religious literature with imprisonment.
In September 2006, CAIR hosted an exclusive dinner with former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami. Under Khatami's regime religious minorities were severely persecuted, non-Muslims were regularly harassed, and hundreds of student protestors murdered. The fact that CAIR chose to honor this dictator who is still a senior member of the Islamic theocracy in Iran tells us much.
Whether it is in America or back home in my own country, we are under attack by groups like CAIR who aim to silence their critics. This is why I am here in America. I aim to continue to fight regardless of the threats and intimidation and I am asking Americans to join with us. And when they attack good men like Rep. Adam Hasner, we must realize that they are attacking each and every one of us and the freedoms that we hold dear. Geert Wilders is a member of the Dutch Parliament and Chairman of the People's Freedom Party.