From the Associated Press
Tennessee state Sen. Bill Ketron has invited controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders to the Republican National Convention.
Wilders tweeted late Sunday that he had arrived in Cleveland. His tweet included a photo of a guest pass from the Tennessee Republican Party. Ketron, of Murfreesboro, told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/2a6RUkx ) the populist anti-Islam and Euro-skeptic lawmaker is his friend.
Wilders has supported a ban on immigrants from Islamic countries to the Netherlands, similar to the idea presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump has floated of temporarily banning foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. Ketron has sponsored several Tennessee bills aimed at Islam.
The invitation was criticized by Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, who said, “The Republican Party should not be importing foreign anti-Muslim bigots.”
For more, see Nashville Post Politics. Excerpt:
“Mr. Wilders is my guest at the convention. He called me sometime ago and was interested in attending. Like myself, having never attended a Convention before [sic] and he wanted to experience the process!” Ketron said in a text message.
When reached by phone this morning, Ketron said he was surprised that Wilders was a controversial choice of guest.
“He’s well-known in Europe, not here. A lot of people don’t even know who he is here,” Ketron said. “The only reason he is controversial is that he speaks his mind … and I agree with his philosophy.”
That philosophy is, in part, is that Islam is not actually a religion and that it is not compatible with democracy, or as Ketron put it, that his country “is being destroyed by the state of Islam.” Does Ketron think the United States is also being destroyed by Islam? He does, he replied, saying that the flux of Syrian refugees who do not “want to assimilate” and who are bringing tuberculosis past the borders is a crisis.
Yet although Wilders is Ketron’s guest, it seems that he likely won’t be attending many of the delegation’s events. For one, Ketron says, he has his own Dutch secret service accompanying him, adding to the already complex security logistics at the RNC. For another, it seems unlikely that at least one event at which Wilders is a “featured guest” — an LGBT gathering entitled, “WAKE UP! (the most fab party at the RNC)” — would be of interest to most of the Tennessee GOP delegates.