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Martin Bosma, Geert Wilders
Rotterdam

Wilders to make rare public appearance for campaign start

Security will have their hands full as Geert Wilders starts his election campaign today in Spijkenisse, a suburb of the Freedom Party stronghold of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Published: February 18, 2017, 8:37 am

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    Wilders will make a rare public appearance on Saturday, to  propose the closing of all the mosques in the Netherlands and a ban Muslim immigration, Reuters reported.

    On 10 November 2004, two attackers were captured after an hour-long siege of a building in The Hague. They were in possession of three grenades and were accused of planning to murder Wilders. The suspects were presumed to be members of what the Dutch intelligence agency, the General Intelligence and Security Service, has termed the Hofstadgroep. Since this incident Wilders has been under constant security protection because of frequent threats to his life.

    Rotterdam, a port city, boasts a large Muslim population because the Muslim mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb, who represents the Dutch Labour Party,  de Partij van de Arbeid, is fond of left-wing multiculturalism.

    Aboutaleb grew up the son of an imam in northern Morocco, but moved to the Netherlands in 1976. When he was appointed mayor of Rotterdam, the second largest city in the country with a population of more than 610 000, he became the first immigrant in such a position in the Netherlands.

    “I want us in government,” Wilders said earlier this week in order to “de-Islamise” the Netherlands, the leader of the Freedom Party said.

    In an interview on Thursday with The Associated Press, Wilders said the proposals, which include closing the country’s borders to migrants from Islamic countries, shutting all mosques and banning the Quran, are legal measures.

    Wilders also hinted at constitutional change saying “a constitution is not something that is (set) in stone and can never be changed”.

    On Friday his party proposed legislation to preserve a traditional Dutch holiday figure, Zwarte Piet, according to local media. Zwarte Piet, is Saint Nicholas’ black helper in the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, but the blackface portrayal of the character has drawn criticism from leftists who say it’s “racism”.

    According to a senior member of Wilders’ Freedom Party, Harm Beertema, the real importance of “this little law” is because “the attack on the Sinterklaas is the hitherto most successful attack in the war against our identity. It is about the preservation of our culture “.

    The Turkish-born Labour MP Selcuk Öztürk sneered at the Freedom Party members in parliament: “Look, at them over there,” the hostile Öztürk said, pointing to Martin Bosma and Machiel de Graaf, “the servants of Geert”, the Dutch daily, the Volkskrant reported.

    Wilders’ party is in front at the polls with 17 percent, with liberal contender trailing Prime Minister Mark Rutte trailing behind. Rutte has been boosted slightly from repeating anti-immigration rhetoric and a rosier economic outlook.

    Major parties have ruled out joining a coalition with Wilders, as the next Dutch parliament is unlikely to support a Nexit in leaving the EU.

    A victory for Wilders would boost French ally Marine Le Pen as well as the Alternative for Germany, both anti-immigration parties that hope to transform European politics in national elections this year.

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