Wilders colleague quits after anti-Moroccan chant
Moroccan association says it will file discrimination charges against Dutch politician
Dutch Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders speaks to supporters on election night in The Hague. First predictions indicate that the party has won the Dutch municipal council elections in the cities Almere and The Hague. Photograph: Robin Utrecht/EPA
A parliamentarian for the Dutch hard-right Freedom Party resigned from the party yesterday amid uproar over the way leader Geert Wilders led supporters in racist chants against Moroccans during an election night rally.
Mr Wilders’s Eurosceptic, anti-Islam Freedom Party made huge gains in municipal elections on Wednesday, and polls suggest it will become the largest Dutch party in the European assembly in elections in May.
On Wednesday night in The Hague, Mr Wilders asked a crowd of supporters: “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in this city?”
They chanted “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!”
Mr Wilders smiled and responded “I’ll take care of that.”
Roland van Vliet, who will remain in parliament as an independent, said Mr Wilders’s views on Muslims were becoming more extreme, moving from criticism of Islamic militancy to claims that statistics showed Moroccans committed a disproportionately high number of crimes.
“And now he’s talking about the entire group,” Mr van Vliet said, adding that it was a relief to be quitting the party.
The campaign for the local elections was dominated by Mr Wilders’s anti-Moroccan rhetoric. But Wednesday evening’s remarks triggered indignation, with prosecutors saying they had received more than 100 requests to investigate him for hate speech.
Politicians and immigrant groups denounced his remarks, while the deputy editor-in-chief of terrestrial broadcaster RTL broke a long-standing tradition of editorial neutrality by penning an open letter telling Mr Wilders: “Shame on you.”
The Association for Dutch Moroccans, which represents 368,000 people of Moroccan origin in the Netherlands, said yesterday it would file charges of discrimination against Mr Wilders and appealed to others to do the same.
Mr Wilders has a history of statements that upset Muslims and eastern European migrant workers. He was prosecuted for hate crimes and discrimination for calling Islam a fascist ideology in 2007 and was acquitted in June 2011.
Prime minister Mark Rutte of the Liberal party said Wednesday’s incident left “a foul taste in my mouth”.
“All those people in the country who want to make a positive contribution, I do not care where they come from. All that matters is their future,” he said on Dutch television.
Mr Wilders also told supporters in The Hague last week they should vote “for a city with fewer problems, and if it’s at all possible, a few fewer Moroccans.” – (Reuters)