An anti-Islam party based on the hardline views of Dutch politician Geert Wilders plans to field candidates at the next federal election, raising fears among moderate Muslims of a rise in extremism.
Mr Wilders, an influential far-right figure expected to shape the results of this year’s European elections, told followers in a video message that the Australian Liberty Alliance was being formed to “offer civil minded Australians fresh political vision and better policies”. Policies advocated by Wilders’ Party for Freedom include deporting immigrants convicted of a crime and stopping all immigration from Islamic countries.
“Many of you are disappointed by current political parties and have had enough of politicians who sell our Western civilisation,” Mr Wilders said in his video. “Like you, good people in Europe, America, Canada have had enough of politicians who don’t share our values and foolishly declare all cultures are equal, and who lack the courage to speak the truth and say that Islam is the biggest threat to freedom today.”
Australian Liberty Alliance was registered as a not-for-profit business last month by Debbie Robinson, the president of the Q Society, an anti-Islam think tank that was responsible for bringing Mr Wilders to Australia last year. The party will be headquartered in Western Australia and is expected to be launched by Mr Wilders early next year. It is yet to be registered as a political party with the Australian Electoral Commission. Ms Robinson said she intended to stand as a candidate.
Islamic Friendship Association of Australia spokesman Keysar Trad urged Muslims to ignore the fledgling party, warning it would “galvanise hardliners” on both sides of the debate. “The extremists within our community love to see something like this,” Mr Trad said. “All this does is create further division.”
Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson said despite Australia’s implied constitutional protection of political speech, any party had a responsibility not to “inflame prejudice”. “Australia had Hansonism and saw it for its shallowness and flaws, and I think people will see exactly the same thing with Wilders,” Mr Wilson said.
Q Society spokesman Andrew Horwood said the party would have no formal relationship with either the Q Society or Mr Wilders. He said the party would be secular, conservative and campaign openly against Islam. “Australia is a different country to The Netherlands but we will be absolutely fearless in saying we don’t believe Islam is good for this country,” Mr Horwood said.
See also “Australian Liberty Alliance, backed by anti-Islam Dutch MP Geert Wilders, set for launch”, News.com, 4 March 2014
Update: See “Geert Wilders backs new anti-Islam party, the Australian Liberty Alliance”, Guardian, 6 March 2014