Thousands rally in Rotterdam against Islamification
Hundreds of conservative demonstrators crowded a main square at Rotterdam's central station on Saturday to protest against the "discrimination against ordinary Dutch citizens" in favour of immigrants and Muslims.
Published: January 21, 2018, 9:59 am
The rally drew thousands of supporters ahead of Dutch local government elections in March, in which issues such as immigration and integration feature prominently among its 13 million voters. Wilders’s PVV will compete in about 30 of the 335 local governments in the 21 March vote.
“The Netherlands is our country, it’s not (Prime Minister) Mark Rutte’s country,” popular Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who led the demonstration, told the crowds.
“We live here, not in Morocco, we don’t live in Turkey or in Saudi Arabia, but in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands,” Wilders said. “Here it’s our rules that count. I want to tell you that the Netherlands is not an Islamic country, do you agree?”
Wanneer @geertwilderspvv vraagt van wie dit land is, antwoorden de demonstranten: “Van ons!”. Op de vraag of zij in verzet willen komen, klinkt het: “Ja!”. Reportage: https://t.co/s54N1dUnMI pic.twitter.com/NYoOkqZkK2
— NRC (@nrc) January 20, 2018
Wilders had to leave the gathering in a hurry over safety concerns when his vehicle became boxed in by journalists and onlookers.
Wilders, 54, lives under 24-hour security. He is often called the “best protected” man in the country after other prominent public figures in The Netherlands who had expressed doubts about immigration were murdered in broad daylight.
He too, has received multiple death threats including from terror groups such as the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda.
Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) campaigned in national elections with the slogan “Stop Islam”. Despite their stellar results, the establishment parties have bent over backwards to keep Wilders out of the governing coalition.
“We were the third largest party of the Netherlands. Now we are the second largest party. Next time we will be [number] one!” he tweeted.
Many supporters on Saturday waved Dutch flags and placards saying “Stop the Islamisation of Europe” and “Keep the Dutch culture, traditions, norms and values!”
Filip Dewinter, Flemish member of Vlaams Belang, also took part in the rally together with Anke Van dermeersch. He tweeted his support and said some Flemish citizens had taken part.
— Filip Dewinter (@FDW_VB) January 20, 2018
Wilders had called on people to come to the Station Square to show their displeasure. Members of Pegida and the Dutch People’s Union were also present as well as 200 members of the Vlaams Belang party had come to Rotterdam from Belgium. “Our struggle exceeds our limits. This is a European fight against the immigration invasion and against Islamization, of both the Netherlands and Flanders and the whole of Europe “, said Dewinter.
The PVV and Vlaams Belang had previously taken action together. The demonstration, which ended at the Schouwburgplein, marked the beginning of a demonstration tour.
Police – who were out in large numbers – formed a line between the anti-Islam rally and a few anti-demonstrators led by two MPs of the leftist Denk Party. Denk draws its support mainly from Turkish and Moroccan communities.
“This is a message of hatred and division and we’re against it. We have a message of unity and solidary,” Denk leader Tunahan Kuzu told AFP.
In Rotterdam, the PVV will be up against Kuzu’s Denk party.
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