Norwegian tragedy sparks Dutch debate

26th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

In Dutch parliament, the Dutch Labour Party and the Green Left party have applauded a statement by Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders in which he emphatically distances himself from Anders Behring Breivik, the man who confessed to carrying out the attacks in Oslo and the island of Utøya in which 76 people were killed.

A manifest attributed to Breivik shows that he has great sympathy for Mr Wilders and his fight against the alleged Islamisation of society. In the manifest, Breivik describes the dangers of Islamisation in Europe and mentions the Netherlands as one of the victims.

Similar ideas On Tuesday Labour Party leader Job Cohen pointed out that Breivik’s actions were based on ideas similar to those embraced by Mr Wilders and his Freedom Party, and said that Mr Wilders could not simply state that the horrific attacks in Norway were carried out by a madman and just leave it at that. Mr Cohen argued that politicians need to be very much aware of the fact that their words do matter.

After the attacks, Mr Wilders immediately spoke of a “violent, sick psychopath. He added that the Freedom Party “abhors everything this man stand for and has done.” On the internet and opinion pages the debate about the extent to which Mr Wilders should tone down his strong-worded rhetoric against Islam.

Revulsion As a result, Mr Wilders issued a new statement on Tuesday: “To have the fight against Islamisation violently abused by a psychopath is sickening and a slap in the face of the global anti-Islam movement,” he said. "I am filled with revulsion at the thought that the suspect refers to me and the Freedom Party in his manifest."

The Green Left party wants Mr Wilders to take action and steer the anti-Islam sentiments among his supporters in the ‘right direction’. “I want him to channel the anger” said Green Left MP Tofik Dibi. “He should make more frequent, and clear statements. Just a tweet or a statement is inadequate, because the reach of Wilders’ words extends far beyond the Dutch borders."

Mr Dibi wants to engender a much wider debate, including a parliamentary debate with Prime Minister Mark Rutte about the criticism that European leaders do not put up enough of a fight against the ‘xenophobic rhetoric’ of people such as Breivik.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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