Far right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders has sparked angry scenes outside Parliament after claiming Islamism and democracy were “incompatible”.
The controversial Dutch politician visited London to show his anti-Islamic film Fitna at the House of Lords.
Around 200 members of the self-styled “counter-jihad” English Defence League (EDL) marched down Millbank in support of Mr Wilders.
Demonstrators, taking part in a counter-protest, chanted “Nazi scum, off our streets” as the EDL supporters gathered outside Parliament but the two groups were kept apart by lines of police officers. A Met Police spokesman said approximately 50 people, mostly taking part in the counter-protest organised by Unite Against Fascism, were arrested. EDL members, some of them carrying English flags, chanted: “No surrender to the Taliban.”
The 46-year-old Freedom Party leader said: “Islamism and democracy are incompatible. The more Islamism we have, the more freedom we will lose and this is something worth fighting for.”
He also called for an end to immigration to Europe from Islamic countries but said Muslims who agreed to obey the law of the land would be welcome to stay. He said: “To Muslims who do stay, I would say ‘Follow our laws and you are welcome to stay’.”
The Freedom Party is expected to do well in the forthcoming Dutch general election. Last year it came second in the country’s European elections and recently topped the poll in local elections in the city of Almere.
Mr Wilders attempted to enter the country last February but was detained on landing at Heathrow Airport and ordered to fly back to the Netherlands just over three hours later. He had been due to show Fitna but then-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said his presence would “threaten community harmony and therefore public safety”. The ban was later quashed and a subsequent visit to Parliament sparked demonstrations by Muslim protesters.
Friday’s press conference was also attended by UK Independence Party leader Lord Pearson and cross-bencher Baroness Cox, who said Mr Wilders’ visit was a victory for free speech.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Government regrets the decision by Baroness Cox and Lord Pearson to invite Geert Wilders to the House of Lords for a private showing of his film Fitna. However, we currently have no reason to deny Mr Wilders admission to the UK.”