The International Free Press Society and the Center for Security Policy are co-sponsoring a press conference for Geert Wilders at the National Press Club on Friday, as a part of the Washington DC leg of Mr. Wilders’ whirlwind tour of the USA. I’ll be present at this event and will report on it after I get home.
For more information about this and other events, consult the daily updates at the International Free Press Society. Today’s press release from IFPS/CSP is below:
International Free Press Society and Geert Wilders Call for An International First Amendment And Ban On All Hate Speech Laws
Washington DC — On Friday, February 27, 2009, Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders, founder and floor leader of the Freedom Party (PVV), and the International Free Press Society (IFPS), in conjunction with the Center for Security Policy, will discuss recent attacks on free speech worldwide, especially the recent legal actions against Wilders and other political leaders and journalists.
The International Free Press Society will announce a global initiative to protect free speech from laws that criminalize any criticisms of Islam or the doctrines of Shariah.
The event will include a screening of Fitna, the controversial film which includes quotations from the Koran, documentary footage of Islamic leaders inciting violence (jihad) based on those quotations, and documentary footage of jihadist violence. The film can be viewed on the Internet here.
Mr. Wilders will discuss his efforts to show Fitna and to rally support for free speech and the right to criticize Islam.
Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy, will discuss the dangers to America’s national security and civil liberties imposed by global oppression of free speech. CSP recently hosted a conference in London entitled “Free Speech, Jihad and the Future of Western Civilization.” Selected speeches from that conference can be found here.
Concerning recent attacks on free speech, Gaffney said: “The insinuation of Shariah legal codes and practices into Free World societies includes the effort to impose Shariah blasphemy, slander and libel laws in the West. According to Shariah, it is impermissible to engage in speech or writings that ‘defame’ Islam or otherwise offend its followers. We must oppose all these efforts.”
Lars Hedegaard, President of the International Free Press Society, will introduce Mr. Wilders and outline the IFPS 2009 campaign to ban hate speech laws and to work for an “International First Amendment.” Hedegaard said:
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The hate speech and blasphemy laws that are now common in many European countries lack clarity as to precisely what they aim to criminalize. Recent experience with their implementation further shows that they are unequally applied. This state of affairs is intolerable and the IFPS must therefore demand that all such laws be repealed. The way to deal with controversial, offensive or even hateful statements — unless they are directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action — is to expose them to public debate and criticism.
M.P. Geert Wilders lives under 24 hour police protection. Following Fitna’s release online in March 2008, al-Qaeda issued a fatwa calling for Wilders’ murder. Wilders also currently faces prosecution in Holland for alleged “incitement to hatred and discrimination.” Wilders called the Dutch Court of Appeals’ decision to prosecute him an attack on freedom of expression. “Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted,” he said.
Mr. Wilders was recently arrested and deported from England, where he had traveled on the invitation of members of the House of Lords to speak and show the film. He is visiting New York, Boston and Washington DC this week, meeting with private organizations, political leaders and journalists to encourage their support for the campaign to protect free speech worldwide.
An extended question and answer session with all three speakers will follow their presentations.
Press Conference Logistics
- Date: Friday, February 27, 2009
- Security Check-in Time: 8:30 a.m.
- Press Conference: 9:30 a.m. — 11:00 a.m.
- Location: Lisagor Room, The National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW Washington, DC 20045
- Pre-registration required: Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Christine Brim at 202-835-9077 (office) or 202-379-6776 (cell) to pre-register. Space is limited and advance pre-registration is required. Anyone who is not pre-registered will not be permitted entry to the press conference.
- Security Check-in: Please allow ample time for security check-in. Personal identification and press credentials will be required. All bags, equipment and persons will be subject to inspection.