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The Netherlands: Extreme right populist party leader wows to crack down on ’Moroccan scum’

Monday 20 February 2017, by siawi3


Wilders at Dutch campaign launch vows to crack down on ’Moroccan scum’

Reuters International
Feb 18, 2017 - 19:08

Photo: Netherlands’ Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders attends a news conference after a European far-right leaders meeting in Koblenz, Germany, January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

By Thomas Escritt

SPIJKENISSE, Netherlands (Reuters) - Dutch anti-Muslim, anti-EU party leader Geert Wilders promised to crack down on “Moroccan scum” who he said were making the streets unsafe and urged the Dutch to “regain” their country as he launched his election campaign on Saturday.

Wilders was surrounded by police and security guards during a walkabout in Spijkenisse, part of the ethnically diverse industrial area surrounding the vast port of Rotterdam and a stronghold of his Freedom Party.

“Not all are scum, but there is a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland who makes the streets unsafe,” he told reporters, speaking in English. “If you want to regain your country, if you want to make the Netherlands for the people of the Netherlands, your own home, again, then you can only vote for one party.”

Crime by young Moroccans was not being taken seriously, added Wilders, who in December was convicted of inciting discrimination for leading supporters in a chant that they wanted “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!” Moroccans in the country.

Wilders - who has lived in hiding since an Islamist murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004 - pledges to ban Muslim immigration, close all mosques and take the Netherlands out of the European Union.

Many of his supporters at the Spijkenisse market, however, said they cared more about his social welfare policies.

“The most important thing for me is bringing the pension age back down to 65,” said Wil Fens, 59, a crane operator at the port.

Wilders hopes a global upsurge in anti-establishment feeling that has already helped to propel Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency and to persuade Britons to vote to quit the European Union will propel him to power in the March 15 parliamentary election.

A win for Wilders would boost French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and the Alternative for Germany party, both hoping to transform European politics in elections this year.

“Despite all the hate and fear-mongering of the elite both in Britain and Brussels, people took their fate in their own hands,” he said. “I think that will happen in Holland, in France, Austria and in Germany.”

Wilders’ party leads in opinion polls with 17 percent, a whisker ahead of the pro-business Liberals of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has closed the gap by matching some of Wilders’ anti-immigration rhetoric and received a boost from a surging economy.

But if he wins, Wilders will struggle to form a government, since most major parties have ruled out joining a coalition with him, viewing his policies as offensive or even unconstitutional.

The fragmented political landscape means a coalition government of four or more parties is all but inevitable.

A study published by the Social Affairs Ministry on Tuesday found that up to 40 percent of the Turks and Moroccans in the Netherlands do not feel that they belong or are accepted.

(Editing by Kevin Liffey)



Dutch populist Geert Wilders talks of Moroccan ’scum’

18 February 2017
From the section Europe

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Wilders’ championing of Donald Trump is having a negative effect on his poll ratings

Dutch populist leader Geert Wilders has launched his election campaign by calling some Moroccans “scum”.

Mr Wilders tops opinion polls ahead of the 15 March parliamentary vote, but has seen his lead reduced in recent weeks.

He has vowed to ban Muslim immigration and shut mosques if he wins.

His latest comments come two months after he was convicted in a hate speech trial over his promise to reduce the number of Moroccans in the country.

Mr Wilders addressed his supporters on Saturday amid tight security in his party’s stronghold of Spijkenisse, an ethnically diverse area near Rotterdam.

“There is a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland who make the streets unsafe,” he said. “If you want to regain your country, make the Netherlands for the people of the Netherlands again, then you can only vote for one party.”

He emphasised that he thought “not all are scum”.

According to the 2011 census, there were more than 167,000 Moroccan-born residents of the Netherlands, making up the third-largest group of non-EU residents, a figure that does not take into account second or third-generation Moroccans.

Why Dutch populist Geert Wilders is scenting victory

A few dozen supporters of Mr Wilders turned up in Spijkenisse on Saturday morning, as did a small group of demonstrators.

“The things that he’s going to do make very, very scared,” one of the demonstrators, Emma Smeets, told the Associated Press.

“A lot of people have gotten used to it and they don’t protest any more, and I think it’s important that you show your voice, that you don’t agree with the things that are happening, and also just to get into contact with the people that are voting for him.”
Image copyright AP

Mr Wilders’s Freedom Party holds 12 of the 150 seats in the lower house of Parliament. But his nearest rival, right-wing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has narrowed the lead with just a month until the election is held.

The BBC’s Anna Holligan, in The Hague, said Mr Wilders’s championing of US President Donald Trump’s policies appears to be backfiring, as many Dutch voters believe Mr Trump is bad for global stability.

Even if Mr Wilders wins, he may struggle to put together a coalition, as leading parties have said they would not work with him.

Mr Wilders’s three-week trial last year was triggered when police received 6,400 complaints about remarks he had made during a municipal election campaign in The Hague.

At a rally, he asked supporters whether they wanted “fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands”.

When the crowd shouted back “Fewer! Fewer!” a smiling Mr Wilders responded: “We’re going to take care of that.”

At the trial, prosecutors took testimony from Dutch-Moroccans who said his comments made them feel like “third-rate citizens”. He was convicted of insulting a group and inciting discrimination.