Friday, 13 February 2009

Speaking your mind

This time last week if you had asked me who Geert Wilders was I'd probably have guessed that he was a little known 16th century Dutch artist or a minor member of the 1974 Dutch world cup squad who was never going to be a Johan Cruyff and who never actually appeared in any of the games.

But now anyone who watches the news or reads the papers knows that Mr. Wilders is a Dutch M.P. who has made a film about the dangers of Islam. He was recently invited to the House of Lords to show his film to some peers and was told he could not come into this country because the Home Office wants to, quote, ""stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country". An objective like that could shut the doors to many a movie director!

Whether one agrees with Wilders analysis of Islam or not is not the point. The point is whether we live in a country where we are free to think for ourselves, discuss issues and make our own decisions without fear of censure or prosecution.

Another story highlighted the question of whether or not we are still free to think and express our ideas without fear. It concerns a mother who was suspended from her secretarial job at a school because she sought prayer support in an e-mail when her child was told off by a teacher for talking about God and heaven. You can read coverage of the story here

This isn't a left / right issue. It is a debate about the sort of society we want to become.

The following links cover opinion from across the political spectrum that argue for free speech: The Guardian has a piece. Ex-Islamist Ed Husain makes the case in The Independent .

And on the right, The Telegraph's perspective can be found here

You can find Wilders film here. Make up your own mind.

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