Turkey says Wilders is 'unwelcome'
The Turkish foreign ministry says it rejects the racist views of the far-right politician and fears his visit will ruin good ties with the Netherlands.Ankara – Far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, a vocal enemy of Islam, is "unwelcome" in Turkey, a foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday following reports that the controversial politician plans to visit the mainly Muslim country.
"We reject the racist views of this person.... He is unwelcome in many European countries as well," spokesman Burak Ozugergin told AFP.
Wilders, who leads the Party for Freedom, reportedly plans to join a delegation of Dutch parliamentarians expected to visit Turkey in January.
Arguing that Europe is under the threat of Islamisation, he has compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf, called for the Koran to be banned and described Islamic culture as "retarded".
Fiercely opposed to Turkey's European Union membership bid, he has likened the country to a Trojan horse whose accession would prompt more Muslims to immigrate to Europe.
"We have very good ties with the Netherlands. We worry that this person's inclusion in the Dutch delegation will cast a negative light on the whole visit, which, we believe, will be unfair to the Netherlands," Ozugergin said.
A government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Wilders' views "are bordering on fascism" and added: "I wonder whether he will find anybody to meet with here if he comes."
de Volkskrant reported that Turkish ministers and MPs will refuse to meet the entire delegation if Wilders is among them.
Popular Turkish daily Aksam was the first to report the news on Tuesday: “Tension over Mozart”, the paper’s headline read, apparently referring to the Freedom Party leader’s exotic hairdo.
de Volkskrant wrote that the Turkish government is now embarrassed by the situation as they realised refusing to meet Wilders would allow the controversial politician to accuse Turkey of being undemocratic and unable to take criticism. However, the government fears a media hype would stir up emotions among its Islamist supporters.
In response, the parliamentary European Affairs Commission said it would cancel the visit - scheduled for the Christmas recess – if not all members of the delegation are received by the Turkish authorities.
Delegation leader and Labour Party MP Harm Evert Waalkens said he will refuse to make cuts to the agreed programme but as of last night has not yet had official confirmation of the Turkish warning.
According to free newspapers De Pers, Turkey is unlikely to change its mind. ”Wilders’ refusal (to cancel his intended visit, ed.) is a choice opportunity for the ruling AK Party, which has roots in political Islam, to show it cannot be trifled with. Wilders in turn will see his ideas confirmed. ‘The country is showing its true face, and it’s a dirty face. Turkey is an autocratic country which cannot even spell the word democracy’ ”.
The paper said while Wilders’ fellow MPs are supporting his right to free speech, it would not be the first time MPs had had enough of a Freedom party MP’s provocative statements. During a parliamentary trip to the Netherlands Antilles last year, MPs initially expressed solidarity with Hero Brinkman who accused local politicians of being “Corrupt as hell” but eventually decided they had enough of his “insults“ to the Antilleans.
Wilders was turned away at the airport when he tried to visit Britain in February on grounds he was spreading "hatred and violent messages." He visited London in October after the ban was overturned.
AFP / Radio Netherlands / Expatica