Far-right Dutch leader prompts PM's exit

2012-04-23 16:52
The Hague - Far-right Dutch leader Geert Wilders has a reputation for breaking with consensus politics, so it was perhaps no surprise that he should have been instrumental in bringing down the governing coalition.

Reviled and adored alike for his anti-Islamic rhetoric, the 48-year-old was back in the spotlight on Monday after his withdrawal of parliamentary backing effectively prompted Prime Minister Marc Rutte to tender his resignation.

It was just the latest chapter of controversy for a politician who has made clear his contempt for the mainstream, including the Dutch tradition of multi-cultural tolerance.

"We dare to talk about sensitive subjects like Islamisation and we use plain and simple words that the voter can understand," is how Wilders, creator of the anti-Islam film Fitna, explains his popularity.

His 17-minute commentary, featuring shocking imagery of attacks in New York in 2001 and Madrid in 2004 combined with quotes from the Qur'an, Islam's holy book, has drawn outrage in several Muslim countries.

It was released in March 2008 despite opposition from the Dutch government who feared it might spark a militant response similar to that which followed the publication in Denmark of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Leftist elite

He was acquitted by a Dutch court last year on hate speech charges, accused of promoting racial hatred and discrimination against Muslims.

Nicknamed "Mozart" for his platinum-dyed mop of hair, Wilders describes his far-right label as "nonsense", but displays no hesitation in branding the Qur'an a "fascist" book.

"My supporters say: 'at last there is someone who dares to say what millions of people think'. That is what I do," Wilders has said.

"People are fed up with the government; the leftist elite that has failed them."

He has been living under 24-hour protection for the past seven years due to death threats and is now regarded as the best protected man in the country.

Wilders started his political career in the Dutch liberal VVD party which he quit after 14 years in 2004, partly over its support at the time for Turkey's EU membership bid.

Biggest problem

Having started off as a policy advisor and speech writer for the VVD, Wilders was elected a municipal councillor in 1997 and a lawmaker the following year, becoming an independent member of parliament when leaving the party in 2004.

He created the PVV for parliamentary elections in 2006, campaigning to "limit the growth of Muslim numbers" in the Netherlands, and taking nine out of 150 seats.

This number jumped to 24 after 2010 polls where the PVV was an alliance partner of the VVD party and Christian Democrats (CDA).

Arguing that "Islam is the Netherlands' biggest problem", Wilders has urged parliament to ban the Koran, comparing it with Hitler's Mein Kampf.

He also wants to ban the full Muslim veil, halt immigration from Muslim countries and stop the construction of mosques in the Netherlands.

He was barred from entering Britain in 2009 to stop him spreading "hatred and violent messages".

Core business

"I want to defend freedom, which I think will disappear into thin air the moment the Islamic ideology gains a stronger foothold in this country," Wilders, who is married to a Hungarian, said.

"It is truly a mission and I personally pay a high price. For years, it has been all but comfortable."

Wilders' residential address is a closely guarded secret. He rarely ventures out in public, and never without a large security detail.

But this would never deter him, the politician said.

"Islam will always remain our core business."

Read more on:    the netherlands  |  religion

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.