Anti-Islam Dutch deputy Wilders goes wilder, vows to close mosques
by Compiled from Wire Services
ISTANBULMar 07, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Compiled from Wire Services
Mar 07, 2017 12:00 am
Anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders again vowed to shut mosques and ban the Koran should he win upcoming elections. "Closing mosques may be more difficult but you can do it," Wilders told journalists in an industrial suburb of Amsterdam earlier at a press meeting. "You have to change the Constitution. It takes time, certainly in Holland... but I am a lawmaker and if anyone can change the constitution and propose this, it's me," Wilders said.
The 53-year-old Wilders has courted controversy with his hardline anti-Islam, anti-immigrant stance and his incendiary insults against Moroccans and Turks. He has vowed in his party's one-page manifesto that if elected he would ban the sale of Korans, close mosques and Islamic schools, shut Dutch borders and ban Muslim migrants.
"We believe that what Wilders is doing is very dangerous to our society," Ouladali told AFP after the mosque meeting, speaking in Dutch.
Ineke van der Valk, a researcher at the University of Amsterdam told the meeting that incidents of hate crimes against Muslims were on the rise in The Netherlands.
Since 2015 incidents involving discrimination have almost doubled and there were at least 54 incidents involving mosques -- like threatening letters displaying Nazi symbols she said. "There has been a worrisome rise in this kind of activity in our country," Van der Valk said.
Wilders brushed off a slump in polls saying he was confident of a strong showing in upcoming elections, which he vowed would also boost Europe's far-right.
Just 10 days before the March 15 vote, the firebrand politician and his Freedom Party (PVV) appears to have slipped into second place behind the Liberal party of incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte after months of leading the opinion polls.
"I am confident we will all have excellent results," Wilders told a gaggle of mainly foreign journalists, referring also to France's far-right presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen. "Even if that will not be the case, the genie will not go back into the bottle... certainly things will change in Europe," he insisted.
In an odd press conference, Wilders gathered reporters from international organizations in a street in an Amsterdam industrial area, surrounded by a heavy security detail of uniformed and plain-clothed police officers.
Boosted by the polarizing debate over immigration, and initially by the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential race, Wilders had been leading polls since late last year.
The Dutch vote is seen as a key litmus test of the rise of populist and far-right parties ahead of other national elections to be held across Europe later this year.
But the latest collated polls by the Dutch website Peilingwijzer (Poll indicator) from seven different agencies on Saturday showed Rutte's VVD party would now win 23 to 27 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament, with the PVV set to garner 22-26 seats if elections were held today.
"Many of my colleagues [opponents] today are now copying our thoughts. The whole campaign today in Holland... is about immigration, national identity, values and the EU," said Wilders. "They are copy-cats and that's why we are losing votes," he said.