On 14th October 2009, Quilliam issued the following press release:

Quilliam challenges Dutch MP to public debate

Quilliam’s directors have announced that they wish to challenge Geert Wilders, the controversial far-right Dutch MP, to a public debate on Islam when he comes to the UK on Friday following a court ruling which overturned a Home Office decision to ban him from the country.

Quilliam believes that although many of Wilders’ public statements on Islam and Muslims are bigoted, ill-informed and offensive to people of all faiths, this is not an adequate reason to prevent him from coming to the UK given that he has not directly incited violence. Instead Quilliam believes that Wilders’ ideas, like those of non-violent Islamist extremists, should be challenged through debate and argument.
Ed Husain, Co-Director of Quilliam, says:

“The Home Office was wrong to try to ban Geert Wilders from the UK given that he has not directly incited violence. We welcome the fact that this key principle of free speech has now been defended by the British courts.

“However, it is also vital that Wilders’ undoubtedly bigoted views are firmly challenged and subjected to proper critical scrutiny. No religion is monolithic and Wilders has evidently been convinced by the words and actions of Islamists and jihadists that Islam is inherently violent and intolerant.

“We therefore challenge Geert Wilders to an open debate in which we will argue that Islam is compatible with secular democracy and that, contrary to what he apparently believes, Muslims are not a threat to Europe and its values.”

Notes to editors:
1. Quilliam previously supported Wilders’ right to enter the UK in February 2009, and publically challenged Wilders to a debate at the time on BBC Newsnight.