Fear anti-Islam MP could stir anger in tense community
Australia is faced with a potential timebomb as the Government considers whether a visa should be granted to prominent anti-Islamic Dutch MP Geert Wilders.
Wilders, who is protected 24 hours a day by bodyguards because of his views, believes Islam is a "violent and dangerous" religion and has compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler's biography Mein Kampf.
His website contains a link to the video Innocence of Muslims that ignited violence around the world and triggered riots in Sydney.
Visas have been issued to his staff, but Wilders' application has been delayed because he is included on Australia's movement alert list, which keeps track of people of "immigration concern ... for character or other reasons".
His application to visit Australia for a speaking tour next month comes as religious leaders, police and community groups try to lower tensions and heal rifts after the violence in Sydney's central business district.
Islamic leaders in Sydney and Melbourne have held ground-breaking meetings, which have included Coptic Christian and other religious representatives, to condemn the riots and place a lid on future protests.
They have also broken with overseas Muslim groups by declaring that no more demonstrations should be mounted against the US-made film mocking the Prophet Muhammad, saying the film did not deserve the attention.
But tensions remain, with reports of further protests planned for both Sydney and Melbourne next weekend.
And Muslims have felt a backlash, with hundreds of abusive and threatening emails sent to Islamic groups and websites.
The Government also came under attack by the Opposition and right-wing groups for allowing British Islamic activist Taji Mustafa into the country to speak at a conference organised by the Australian wing of the international Hizb ut-Tahrir organisations.
The organisation advocates the end of Israel and the installation of an international caliphate.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said Mustafa did not have any relevant criminal convictions, and HUT was not banned under counter-terrorism laws.
Wilders has the potential to unleash further anger among Muslim radicals, who believe that Islam is under systematic attack.
Islamic leaders, supported by submissions to a parliamentary inquiry into multiculturalism, also say that Islamic migrants are often trapped in low-income households with high unemployment rates, and feel isolated and discriminated against.
The Islamic Council of Victoria said in its submission that attitudes towards practices such as the wearing of burqas and religious observances at mosques had created a perception that Australia did not respect the individual right to religious practice.
But many submissions also expressed concerns and fears about Muslims and a perceived threat to the Australian way of life.
Wilders, whose far-right Freedom Party was hammered in the recent Dutch elections, has become a focus of anti-Islamic sentiment in Europe. He was banned from visiting Britain to show his movie Fitna but was allowed entry on appeal. Last year he was acquitted in a Dutch court of charges of inciting hatred and discrimination.
In an interview with the Washington Times Wilders said Islam was an ideology aiming for world domination, and that if the West refused to face this reality it would be defeated.
Who: Bleached-blond Dutch politician.
Politics: Head of the anti-Islamic, anti-immigration, anti-euro Freedom Party.
Standing: In this month's election he lost more than a third of his seats to tie with the Socialists in third place with 15 seats.
* The Freedom Party had been the third-largest party in the Netherlands Parliament since 2010. Wilders toppled the Government in April by refusing to back budget cuts after having kept a minority Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition in office.
* During the campaign he told Prime Minister Mark Rutte: "You talk about jobs, jobs, jobs but all I see are Poles, Poles, Poles."
* He said: "My aim is to protect the Netherlands from the euro, immigration and the super-state. I will not quit."By Greg Ansley Email Greg