Storm after Dutch populist Wilders vows 'fewer Moroccans'

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Outspoken Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders faced an unprecedented storm of protest on Thursday after he told supporters he would ensure there were "fewer Moroccans" in the country.

Hundreds filed complaints with the police and an MP from his anti-Islam PVV party left his grouping in parliament the day after a jovial Wilders promised his chanting supporters he would arrange for there to be fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands.

"The PVV is on a slippery slope," former PVV lawmaker Roland van Vliet wrote in a letter to Wilders, a copy of which he sent to national news agency ANP.

"The time has come that I have to address my conscience about what's happening with the PVV. Your statement yesterday about the Moroccan community has led me to cancel my membership of the PVV and sit as an independent in parliament," ANP reported.

The public prosecutor's office in Den Haag said it had received more than 100 complaints, adding that over 500 people had also alleged discrimination through the police website.

Dozens more telephoned the police to say they wanted to file a complaint, the public prosecutor said on its website.

A Facebook page "I'm filing a complaint against Wilders" had over 48,000 likes by early Thursday evening.

"Why? Because we're Dutch like you. We believe in our country and not in sowing hatred," the Facebook page said.

The largest Moroccan grouping in the Netherlands said earlier Thursday it would file a complaint against Wilders after he repeated the controversial statement when local government election results were released on Wednesday night.

Television pictures showed Wilders in The Hague asking party faithful whether they wanted "fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?".

"Fewer! Fewer!" the crowd shouted, with a smiling Wilders answering: "We're going to organise that."

"We believe by targeting a specific group, Wilders this time has gone too far," Habib El Kaddouri, a coordinator at the Grouping of Dutch-Moroccans Foundation (SMN) told AFP, referring to a 2011 court case that saw the platinum-haired politician acquitted on hate-speech charges.

The court ruled that Wilders had targeted a religion, which is permitted under Dutch freedom-of-speech laws, rather than a specific ethnic group.

Wilders, who is often reviled in Dutch immigrant communities for his fiery anti-Islam rhetoric, has in the past compared the Koran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and has called Islam a fascist religion.

He has also thrown verbal barbs at the "hordes" of eastern European immigrants in the Netherlands and his party in 2012 set up an Internet site where complaints about immigrants "causing disturbances" could be laid.

Broadcaster RTL News took an editorial position for the first time in 25 years, with deputy editor Pieter Klein writing an open letter to Wilders saying he had "really crossed the line" and should be ashamed.

BNR radio's editor in chief Sjors Froelich wrote in a personal capacity that he could now understand the comparisons made between Wilders and Hitler, adding that Wilders knew exactly what he was doing and wanted to face trial.

In the run-up to Wednesday's local elections, Wilders canvassed on an anti-Moroccan ticket, last week saying a city like The Hague could do "with fewer Moroccans".

Wilders told supporters on Wednesday he was allowed to ask the question because it fell under freedom of speech "and we have said nothing we're not allowed to".

"Statements like these however make us feel very insecure," Kaddouri said.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte also criticised Wilders, saying his comments "left a bad taste in the mouth".

"He again has gone too far," he told ANP.

© 2014 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • whadda ya know posted:

    on 22nd March 2014, 09:27:27 - Reply

    ahh the European blood line and superiority for power and money strikes again and again and again. Wilders behavior is the base of all White hatred that is represented in centuries of oppression. The Dutch are the experts in this realm