I support the right of Geert Wilders to visit Australia. He is not a racist and is not encouraging violence. He is opposed to the ideology of Islam which he sees as totalitarian. In a democracy we are entitled to hear these views particularly because they are not without merit. If violence occurs in response to the Wilders visit it is the result of intolerance towards his views not from his views themselves. Cultural relativism is an unconvincing basis for ethics because it does not deal satisfactorily with those who are themselves intolerant and certain groups within Islam are obviously intolerant of anything non-Islamic. There is evidence of widespread bigotry and intolerance in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. Punishing certain sexual practices or an exit from Islam with death, rejecting the notions of a pluralist democracy and treating women as property are instances of bigoted intolerance. Refusing to accept democratic rule by non-Muslims (as decreed under the the so-called Cairo declaration) is potentially inconsistent with pluralist democratic ideals and should be firmly rejected as a reasonable ethic anywhere. It is as wrong in Saudi Arabia as in Australia.
I do not agree with Wilders’ view that we should generally oppose the migration of Muslims to Australia although I don’t think Australia has got a good deal from the Muslim migrants it has received from some Middle East countries such as Lebanon. This has less to do with their religion than their recent history. The vast majority of Muslim migrants to Australia make very good citizens partly because they do not accept the ideology of the fanatics. I see no reason to be prejudiced against Muslim migrants who accept the notion of living in a non-Islamic pluralist democracy if we are to have an active migration program. The bigots and fanatics are, of course, unwelcome. (1155)