Holland’s Former Anti-Islam Politician Receives Warm Welcome in Saudi Arabia

Arnoud van Doorn, former member of the anti-Islamist Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ party and personal friend of his, has declared last month his conversion to Islam.

European media reported that Doorn, who was a member of Wilders’ right-wing Freedom Party until the end of 2011 and helped produce the anti-Islam film “Fitna,” said that he had made a fresh start by announcing on Twitter his decision to embrace Islam and took the Shahadah (Declaration of Faith).

Following his decision to become Muslim, Doorn was hosted in Saudi Arabia this week where he visited the holy city of Mecca and performed Umrah. He later headed to Medina to visit the Prophet’s Mosque. During his visit, Doorn met the imams of the Prophet’s Mosque as well as Sheikh Abdulrahman al-Sudais, head of the Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques, who reportedly gave Doorn an English translation of Quran. According to Islam Memo site, the visit was co-sponsored by the Saudi Ministry of Interior.

While many in Saudi Arabia were happy for this turn of events, some people raised questions about the selective application of the principle of forgiveness by society and authorities. The Dutch politician Doorn has been welcomed to Islam’s holiest sites at the same time when the government continues to detain citizens like Hamza Kashgari and Turki al-Hamad for allegedly insulting Islam and the Prophet.

Okaz columnist Khalaf al-Harbi did not mention Kashgari or al-Hamad by name in his Tuesday column, but he said what they have done pales in comparison to Doorn’s insults to Islam. “Just like Doorn, they have repented on Twitter but nobody cared about it and some even used it against them while Doorn’s conversion to Islam is being openly celebrated,” al-Harbi said. “So what is the difference between the two cases?”

Prominent Saudi liberal writer Turki al-Hamad was arrested last December after he posted a series of controversial tweets about Islam. Hamza Kashgari, a young Saudi writer, was arrested in February 2012 after he also published some controversial tweets about Prophet Mohammed. Both writers remain in prison despite appeals to the authority to release them.

Friends of Hamza Kashgari called for his release on Twitter today. “Some people’s understanding of the concept of mercy seems limited to Europeans and those of higher social status,” Khaled Yeslam said. “Jailing Hamza and embracing the Dutch politician is the biggest insult to the Prophet, Islam and God.”