Archive for Dutch

Support for Geert Wilders’ “Freedom Party” Drops Over Crisis

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2012 by loonwatch

Still my favorite picture of Geert Wilders

If Geert Wilders’ consistent and prolonged anti-Islam/Muslim diatribes weren’t enough of a reason to quit supporting him…

If Geert Wilders anti-freedom policies and attacks on civil liberties weren’t enough of a reason to quit supporting him…

If  Geert Wilders xenophobic fearmongering about Polish and Eastern European immigrants to the Netherlands weren’t enough of a reason to quit supporting him…

There’s another reason: The defection of a senior Freedom Party (PVV) MP Hero Brinkman, an ideological counterpart who parted ways with Wilders due to his “autocratic nature” and “unqualified stance against immigration.”

At least that is what polling data seems to be showing:

Geert Wilders support drops over party crisis

The anti-immigration party would now have 21 seats in parliament, three less than the number of seats it won at the last elections, held nearly 18 months ago. MP Hero Brinkman, seen as a key ideologue, left the party earlier this week in protest at Mr Wilders’ autocratic style and unqualified anti-immigrant stance. However, if elections were held now, Mr Brinkman would lack enough support to gain an independent seat, according to the weekly survey.

The minority government of liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte depends on Mr Wilders’ Freedom Party for a majority in parliament. Now that Mr Brinkman has broken ranks with Mr Wilders, the conservative cabinet may have to rely on other parties as well, in particular on the tiny Christian fundamentalist SGP party.

The minority cabinet has already relied on Labour, the Democrats 66 and the Green Left parties for all those policies not supported by Mr Wilders, such as giving financial aid to Greece and bolstering the euro in general.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

We can’t read too much into these sorts of polls, especially when one considers the fickle nature of polling. However, it is significant, in that it exposes not only rifts and cracks in Wilders movement, but also potential fallout.

What remains to be seen is how Wilders and company will react to all this. Will they ignore this trend or just plain dismiss it? Will they become more aggressive and double down? Will they tone down their jingoistic rhetoric?

In the meantime it seems Wilders hatemongering is continuing to have repercussions:

The Polish Wilders Hates Poles

“I don’t just hate the Poles who work in the Netherlands, I hate all Poles” says Geert Wilders.

It’s not the real Wilders, it’s a satirical programme on Polish television. The Freedom Party leader himself hasn’t gone that far. However, his party does have a website where Dutch people can leave their complaints about Eastern European immigrants. It has been stirring up emotions in Poland for weeks, according to our correspondent Ekke Overbeek.

Szymon Majewski is a well-known Polish comedian with a popular show on the country’s biggest commercial station. In front of a backdrop of windmills, ‘Wilders’ begins the sketch by saying good evening in Dutch (goeie avond). The word goeie, however, means something unpleasant in Polish, so the stage is set. He then explains, in Polish, that he hates all Poles because they drink too much.

Another film, posted on YouTube, has an Asian man telling us that all foreigners, even Dutch, are welcome in Poland. Having nearly been run over by foul-mouthed Dutch people on bikes, he invites all Dutch people to come to Poland for the European football championships. “Poles are friendly and helpful. All the ugly, nasty, greedy Poles are over in the Netherlands”. He is joined by the same fake Wilders who says “Holland for the Dutch.”

Jokes about drugs, euthanasia and abortion follow. The final gag: “You may have a world famous Red Light District, but we have something better. Here you get screwed as soon as you step into a taxi at the airport.”

The Freedom Party’s complaints website has regularly made the news in Poland for over a month. The affair drags on because the Dutch government, which owes its parliamentary majority to Geert Wilders’ support, refuses to disown the website. Prime Minister Mark Rutte says it is an initiative by a political party and has nothing to do with his government. He was asked to appear before the European parliament and explain this stance but chose not to go.

The appearance of a Wilders clone on Polish TV shows that the controversy is beginning to affect the Netherlands image abroad. Until recently, most Poles thought of the Netherlands as a tolerant country, with good job prospects. The number of Polish people in the Netherlands is estimated at between 150 and 200 thousand.

(imm)

For those of you who speak Polish (there are no subtitles), here is the second clip:

Hero Brinkman: Defector From Geert Wilders anti-Islam Party Says PVV is Bankrolled by US Supporters

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2012 by loonwatch

Geert Wilders and David Horowitz Freedom Center

Geert Wilders and David Horowitz Freedom Center

Tell us something we didn’t already know (via. Islamophobia-Watch):

Wilders’ anti-Islam party is bankrolled by US supporters, says former MP

American lobbyists make large donations to a foundation set up by the anti-immigration PVV, Hero Brinkman, the MP who left the party on Tuesday, told a television talk show on Tuesday evening.

Brinkman said he could not rule out the money being used to pay for Geert Wilders’ defence on racial hatred charges but declined to comment further on what the money had been spent on. Nor would he comment on the size of the donations.

The PVV is thought to generate significant funding from Israeli and far-right supporters in the US.

Because the PVV has no members, it does not receive government subsidies to run the campaigning side of its operations and relies instead on donations.

Dutch News, 21 March 2012

Brinkman’s allegation about the PVV’s finances confirms what had already been revealed in the Dutch press. Last year Dutch Newsreported that the two main US sources for the PVV’s funding were David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes.

See, We Told You: Geert Wilders Xenophobia is Not Limited to Muslims

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by loonwatch

Still my favorite picture of Geert Wilders

Far-right populist Geert Wilders has made a name for himself through his anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric, and for this reason he is, to quote Robert Spencer, one of the “heroes” of the anti-Muslim movement.

We have consistently pointed out however that Geert Wilders and his allies are not one stop bigots. Behind the “acceptable” attacks on Muslims is hidden a wider xenophobia against ‘the other.’ A bigotry which if not born out of any consistent ideological character is definitely a reflection of the realization that playing on the fears of the majority may lead to positive results at the ballot box.

Wilders and his party, the PVV are riding a wave of popularity through the launch of an anti-Polish/anti-Eastern European website which has been the cause of much controversy and embarrassment in the Netherlands. After launching the site it was reported that the PVV,

would gain 24 seats in parliament if elections were held today, the number of seats the party currently holds, says pollster Maurice de Hond. Geert Wilders’ populist far-right party is the third largest party in the Netherlands.

Wilders’ PVV site displays,

news clippings with bold headlines blaming foreigners for petty crime, noise nuisance – and taking jobs from the Dutch. “Are immigrants from Central and Eastern countries bothering you? We’d like to hear from you,” it says.

The Dutch government has distanced itself from the website but this hasn’t ebbed the disastrous PR that Wilders move has generated.

Besides criticism from ten European ambassadors and the European Commission, the Dutch public has also expressed concerns about possible repercussions. Poles are calling for a boycott of Dutch products.(emphasis mine)

The issue was taken to the European parliament which just yesterday announced its ‘dismay’ and formal response to Wilders most recent populist move:

EP condemns PVV website, exec puts ball in Netherlands’ court

By Gaspard Sebag in Strasbourg | Wednesday 14 March 2012 (Europolitics.info)

Representatives of the political groups in the European Parliament, on 13 March, unanimously called upon the Netherlands’ Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, to condemn a website launched by his far-right political ally, the PVV party headed by Geert Wilders. Said website, up since early February, urges Dutch citizens to report problems they experience with nationals of Central and Eastern European countries. “Unacceptable,” “a disgrace,” “scandalous” – said MEPs. The European Commission, for its part, announced it would not get involved from a legal point of view and leaves the responsibility of assessing the lawfulness of the website to the Dutch authorities. A joint parliamentary resolution will be put to the vote, on 15 March (see box).

The EPP, which counts among its ranks the junior partner in the Netherlands’ government, the centre-right CDA, was particularly vocal. “We cannot tolerate, from a party that takes part in a coalition government, a call to hatred against nationals from another member state. That is unacceptable,” said EPP leader Joseph Daul (France).

Despite the fact that Rutte is part of the Liberal political family, ALDE Chair Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium) was unequivocal about condemning the “silence” of the Dutch government and the message sent by the website. “My group has nothing but contempt for Mr Wilders’ initiative.” Recalling the need to be even-handed in criticising populist tactics, Verhofstadt lumped together French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Wilders. “I wonder who is the extreme-right wing candidate [in France], is it [Marine] Le Pen or Sarkozy?” he asked.

Reactions from other political group leaders all condemned Rutte’s passivity, whose hands are tied by his need for Wilders’ support, and who thus claims it is not a governmental issue. S&D leader Hannes Swoboda (Austria) called for the website to be closed down. Polish deputy Jacek Kurski (EFD) said Rutte’s lack of reaction is “scandalous”. “The prime minister [of the Netherlands] is not taking up his responsibility,” said Marije Cornelissen (Greens-EFA, Netherlands). “The prime minister ought to have directly condemned this website,” said Peter van Dalen (ECR, Netherlands), adding, however, that the EP holding a debate on this issue is “too much honour” for Wilders.

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who had already condemned the PVV website in February, welcomed the comments made in the plenary chamber. “It is unacceptable that EU citizens become target of xenophobic attitudes because they have exercised their right to move from one state to another,” she said. Reding also called upon on the Dutch authorities to “fully investigate the lawfulness of the website under Dutch law and Union law”.

According to Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE-NGL, France), this is not enough. “You continue to refer to member states and their tribunals but I thought that the Commission was the guardian of the treaties, that freedom of circulation and non-discrimination were part of the European values,” she said. “I notice that certain values are more important than others and that in economic matters when the free circulation of goods and capital is concerned, competition barriers the Commission is prompter to condemn,” added Vergiat.

Geert Wilders Angry at German ‘Right-wing Populist’ Label

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2012 by loonwatch
Still my favorite picture of Geert Wilders

Last week, rabid Islamophobe Diane West railed against the The Daily Beast for taking “a swipe” at her fellow anti-Muslim bigot, Dutch far right wing opportunist, Geert Wilders. The article that inspired her rant asked, “Can’t Someone Tell Geert Wilders to Stop His Anti-Muslim Diatribes Before Somebody Gets Hurt?” 

Wilders is a master at capitalizing on real fears and conjuring false ones—and then dodging responsibility if people’s lives are ruined or lost. “I am responsible for my own actions and for nobody else’s actions,” he says. In a wide-ranging interview at the offices of the Dutch Parliament in The Hague, Wilders complained to Newsweek that the “naive” Obama administration wasn’t doing nearly enough to combat what Wilders regards as the Islamic threat. Expanding on his claims that the Quran should be banned, just as Mein Kampf  has been in some countries, he said the United States should be “getting rid of Islamic symbols—no more mosques—and closing down Islamic schools.” Read the rest here.

Wilders and his ilk have grown accustomed to spreading their hatred with impunity, there are welcome signs the climate may be shifting (h/t: eslaporte):

Wilders angry at German ‘right-wing populist’ label

PVV leader Geert Wilders has demanded the German ambassador explain why he and the anti-islam party are mentioned in a 32-page leaflet warning of the dangers posed by far-right political groupings. The brochure, paid for by the German justice ministry, states that right-wing populist and radical parties could be a breeding ground for terrorism. Wilders is mentioned twice by name and one section includes his photograph. The folder also explains how neo-nazi strategists use social networks. Wilders used the microblogging service Twitter to urge the Dutch government to distance itself from this ‘scandalous’ statement and said questions will be asked in parliament. Some 10% of Germans are said to support populist right-wing groupings. Wilders’ anti-Islam party took around 15% of the vote at the June 2010 general election but support has fallen since then.

Last summer, a Dutch court acquitted Wilders of hate speech charges, this was hailed as a “victory for free speech“ among his hateful kindred on both sides of the Atlantic; it fed well into their “victimhood” narrative and mentality.

Wilders will no doubt continue to portray himself as a besieged champion of “free speech,” apparently oblivious to the irony of simultaneously lobbying to tax the wearing of the hijab, ban the niqab, ban the Qur’an and all things Islamic from the Western world.

Dutch Parliament Closer to Banning Veil

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on January 27, 2012 by loonwatch
Verhagen and Wilders shake hands

(via. Islamophobia-Watch)

Dutch government moves step closer to banning veil

The Dutch Cabinet moved a step closer Friday to banning the burqa, making good on an election promise that is largely symbolic but has broad public support.

Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen said the Cabinet agreed on plans to ban the head-to-toe Islamic gown along with other forms of face-covering clothing including ski masks. The legislation must still be approved by both houses of the Dutch Parliament, a process that could take months. “We are confident we have a majority,” Interior Minister Liesbeth Spies said.

Once seen as one of the world’s most tolerant nations, the Netherlands has turned increasingly conservative in recent years and is pushing immigrants more to fully assimilate into mainstream Dutch society. Anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders welcomed the decision in a tweet as “fantastic news.”

Like neighboring Belgium, the Dutch government cited security concerns as a reason for the ban and framed it as a move to safeguard public order and allow all people to “fully participate in society”. “People must be able to look one another in the eye,” Verhagen said.

The Dutch decision came despite criticism of the ban from independent advisory panel the Council of State, which reportedly suggested it could amount to an attack on freedom of religion. Verhagen denied ignoring the advice and said ministers took it into account when laying out the reasons underpinning the legislation. The government is confident that by citing public order concerns, the legislation will not breach the European Convention on Human Rights.

Leyla Cakir, head of Muslim women’s organization Al Nisa, said she was surprised and shocked by the decision. “You are taking away women’s right of self-determination, and it is all based on fear,” she said.

But in a statement announcing the decision, the government said it was helping women. “Having to wear a burqa or niqab in public goes against equality of men and women,” the government said. “With this legislation, the Cabinet is removing a barrier to these women participating in society.”

Associated Press, 27 January 2012

See also “Ministers vote for Dutch ‘burqa ban’”, RNW, 27 January 2012

A ban on the veil was part of the deal the VVD and CDA made with Wilders in September 2010, in exchange for his party’s support for their coalition government. However, it would be unfair to accuse Maxime Verhagen of adopting this policy out of mere political expendency. He has a record of Islamophobia going back some years.

Wilders Acquittal Strains Netherlands

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2011 by loonwatch
Geert Wilders

This article is not about the validity of the Dutch law regarding hate speech, but about the consistency of the rule of law as well as its implications for Dutch society.

Wilders Acquittal Strains Netherlands

By Cas Mudde for openDemocracy

The acquittal of Dutch politician Geert Wilders on 22 June 2011 on charges of “inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims” is a political victory for Wilders, a legal travesty, and a missed opportunity for Dutch democracy. Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV) are known around the world for their Islamophobic propaganda. A random selection of his Islamophobia includes statements such as “Islam is a fascist ideology”; “Mohammed was a paedophile”; and “Islam and freedom, Islam and democracy are not compatible”. He has also warned of a “tsunami” of Muslim immigrants and compared the Qur’an to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

A glance at the declarations of Wilders and his party leaves no reasonable doubt that Islamophobia is at the core of his program. Wilders may have changed his opinion on various issues, most notably non-Muslim immigrants and the welfare state, but on one point he has never wavered: his struggle against the alleged “Islamisication” of the Netherlands, Europe, and even the world. For example, at a speech on 12 May 2011 at the Cornerstone Church in Tennessee, he said:

“My friends, I am sorry. I am here today with an unpleasant message. I am here with a warning. I am here with a battle-cry: ‘Wake up, Christians of Tennessee. Islam is at your gate.’ Do not make the mistake which Europe made. Do not allow Islam to gain a foothold here.”

While I am not a lawyer, I cannot see how the Amsterdam court can come to theconclusion that Wilders did not – according to Dutch law and precedence – “incite hatred and discrimination” against Muslims. The emphasis is important: for the Netherlands has – since the case of the Centrumpartij(Centre Party / CP) of Hans Janmaat (1934-2002) in the early 1980s – long experience of charging political parties and politicians under anti-discrimination legislation.

Since that time, several parties and politicians whose public statements have been far less consistent and far-reaching than those of Wilders have been convicted of incitement to racial hatred. For example, Janmaat was given a suspended sentence of two months’ imprisonment and a fine of 7,500 guilders (c 3,400 euro) in 1997 for declaring at a demonstration that “as soon as we have the opportunity and power, we will abolish the multicultural society” – a statement that Wilders regularly makes. In fact, a Dutch court even found that the slogan “Full is Full” – used in the 1990s by the CP, and its successor the Centrumdemocraten (Centre Democrats / CD) – constituted incitement to racial hatred. Today, that statement would be almost uncontroversial.

The contrast between Janmaat’s conviction and Wilders’s acquittal reflects an important development in Dutch politics and society. While Wilders’s Islamophobic comments are objectively harsher than Janmaat’s xenophobic equivalents of the 1990s, they are also much more accepted in contemporary Dutch society. This is not necessarily to say that the Dutch population has become more xenophobic over the past generation. What has happened, rather, is that the taboo on expressing xenophobia in public has been broken, particularly regarding Islam and Muslims (see “The intolerance of the tolerant”, 20 October 2010). It was, incidentally, the earlier flamboyant populist Pim Fortuyn (1948-2002) rather than Janmaat or Wilders who was the agent of that change.

In consequence, politicians such as Wilders can gain much more electoral support than Janmaat ever could, which gives them real political power. And there is no doubt that Wilders’s political power has played a major role in the court’s decision. After all, it is much easier to convict the leader of a marginal and ostracized party like the CD than a figure like Wilders, the leader of the third-largest party in the parliament and a “support-party” of the current government (see “ The Geert Wilders enigma“, 23 June 2010).

A political failure

But a political victory is not automatically a democratic victory. In fact, I would argue that the acquittal of Geert Wilders is both a defeat of and a lost opportunity for Dutch democracy. Don’t misunderstand: I am a long-term opponent of the Netherlands’ anti-discrimination laws, I support absolute freedom of speech; and I believe that a democratic state should not limit or regulate speech, particularly in politics.

That said, a liberal democracy cannot function without the rule of law; and an essential aspect of this is equality before the law. Clearly, however, this is not the case in the Netherlands, where for decades people have been treated differently with regard to anti-discrimination laws (for example, in the 1990s the powerful conservative politicianFrits Bolkestein was not even indicted, far less convicted, for statements very similar to those of Janmaat).

To be fair, in acquitting Wilders the Amsterdam court has undoubtedly taken the changed public discourse on immigrants into account. But this does not get to the heart of the problem, which is notjudicial but political. The Amsterdam court found itself trapped by history; it was asked to enforce a law inherited from the past for which there no longer exists majority political and public support. Its acquittal has taken the lint out of the powder-keg of anti-discrimination legislation. It is now up to the politicians – not judges – to bring social values and laws back into harmony.

If Wilders had been convicted, a political crisis was inevitable: how then, after all, could the Dutch government rely on the support of a party of a convicted “anti-democratic” politician? A combination of the ensuing public outcry and sheer political necessity would have forced parliament to amend the legislation by bringing it more into accord with the public view. Now, Wilders might continue at times to raise the issue, even if mainly to portray himself as a near-martyr in order to generate political support; but the political elite will resume ignoring the topic while trying to regulate who is indicted or not (and, in the few cases that this fails, to try and influence who is convicted or not).

This outcome continues a policy of legal insecurity that undermines the rule of law in the Netherlands. It is therefore high time that Dutch politicians update the anti-discrimination laws in accordance with their own and contemporary Dutch society’s preferences

Dutch Catholic Priest Pedophilia Endorsement Shocks Church

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , on May 23, 2011 by loonwatch

Robert Spencer co-religionist supports pedophilia. Will we be seeing this story on JihadWatch? Imagine if these priests were Muslim, Islam would be blamed instantly.

Dutch Catholic Priest Pedophilia Endorsement Shocks Church

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Catholic Church and the Salesian order are investigating revelations that a Salesian priest served on the board of a group that promotes pedophilia with the full knowledge of his boss.

The order’s top official in the Netherlands, Delegate Herman Spronck, confirmed in a statement that the priest – identified by RTL Nieuws as 73-year-old “Father Van B.” – served on the board of “Martijn,” a group that campaigns to end the Dutch ban on adult-child sex.

The group is widely reviled but not outlawed.

“Of course we reject this and distance ourselves from this personal initiative” on the part of the priest, Spronck said in a statement. “Membership in such organizations does not fit with the ethos of the Salesian order.”

However, Spronck’s own superior in Belgium said he will investigate both Spronck and Van B., after both men were quoted by RTL Nieuws as saying such relationships aren’t always harmful.

Superior Jos Claes told Belgian television on Saturday he “couldn’t imagine” that both men would not be disciplined, but said he must make sure of the facts first.

“Society thinks these relationships are harmful. I disagree,” RTL quoted Van B. as saying. He served on Martijn’s board from 2008 until 2010, when its founder was arrested for alleged possession of child pornography, a case that is ongoing.

Van B. told RTL he remains a member of Martijn and now lives in a retirement home in eastern Netherlands.

In a second interview, RTL quoted Spronck as saying he was aware of Van B.’s pedophilia and membership in Martijn, and even of two instances where the priest had been fined by police for exposing himself in public. But he said he didn’t think that was sufficient reason to ban him from the order.