Dutch Christian Democrats oppose deal with anti-Islam party

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A group of Dutch Christian Democrat (CDA) published an open letter Thursday opposing any coalition partnership with the anti-Islam PVV party led by Geert Wilders.

The strongly worded statement, which accused the PVV of stigmatising minorities, cast a shadow on coalition talks which began Monday.

"In its political statements and electoral platform, the PVV has gone against many of our fundamental rights, notably the right to equal treatment and the right to freely practice religion according to one's beliefs," the group of 44 CDA members wrote in a letter published in the Christian daily Trouv.

Wilders, who has described Islam as fascist and called for a ban on the Koran, announced last Friday that he would join a protest against the construction of a mosque in New York near the site of the September 11 attacks.

"The PVV stigmatises a large minority of our population and in fact makes it the scapegoat of nearly all our social problems. The PVV is not only a threat to the freedom of muslims, but to our rule of law and our freedom," the letter said.

CDA leader Maxime Verhagen began talks Monday over a PVV-supported minority government with VVD leader Mark Rutte and Wilders, despite an earlier refusal to do a deal with the PVV.

The centre-right VVD and CDA won a combined 52 seats in the 150-member Dutch Parliament in June 9 elections, while the PVV increased its number of seats from nine to 24.

© 2010 AFP

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