Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders condemns ‘Moroccan scum’ as he kicks off election campaign

The populist far-right politician Geert Wilders kicked off his election campaign in Spijkenisse, a suburban town near the port of Rotterdam, on Saturday morning. His supporters struggled to catch a glimpse of the Freedom Party leader as reporters, many of them journalists for foreign media outlets, scrambled for access. Some of his followers were pushed to the ground by the swell of journalists and security forces.

Mr Wilders called his campaign “historic” and, in an echo of Donald Trump‘s successful US election campaign, asked his voters to “make the Netherlands ours again”. He reiterated a controversial statement on Moroccan immigrants to the Netherlands, calling them “Moroccan scum” – a subtle variation on the “fewer, fewer Moroccans” chant that saw him convicted of inciting discrimination late last year.

“Once again not all are scum but there is a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland who makes the streets unsafe, mostly young people,” he said. “If you want to regain your country, if you want to make the Netherlands for the people of the Netherlands, your own home again, then you can only vote for one party.”

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Ieg van Haperen, a 66-year-old former mailroom worker, said she recognised herself in his comments. “I don’t feel safe opening my own front door at night,” the Spijkenisse resident explained, accusing young foreigners of making her feel uncomfortable.

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The EU vs. the Nation State?

Attention is beginning to focus on elections due to take place in three separate European countries in 2017. The outcomes in the Netherlands, France and Germany will determine the likely future of the European Union (EU).

In the Netherlands, on March 15, all 150 members of the country’s House of Representatives will face the ballot box. The nation is currently led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose VVD party holds 40 seats in the legislative chamber, ruling in a coalition with the Dutch Labour party, which holds 35 seats.

In contrast, the Party for Freedom – Partij Voor de Vrijheid (PVV) – led by Geert Wilders, currently holds 12 seats.

According to an opinion poll, issued on December 21, Wilders’s party has leapt to 24% in the polls, while Rutte’s party has slid to 15%. Were an election to happen now, this would translate to 23 MPs for Rutte’s VVD, and 36 MPs for Wilders’s PVV.

Given the strict formula of proportional representation in the Netherlands, however, coalition governments are the norm. Should Wilders’s PVV come first in March, he will likely need to negotiate with one of his staunchest critics to form a government.

In France, two rounds of voting in the presidential elections are set to take place on April 23 and May 7 – with the two leading candidates from the first round facing each other in a runoff in the second round.

The most likely candidates to make it through to the second round, François Fillon, of the centre-right Les Républicains, and Marine Le Pen, of the populist Front National, remain tied in first-round polling.

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The Suicide of Germany

The attack in Berlin on December 19, 2016 was predictable. German Chancellor Angela Merkel created the conditions that made it possible. She bears an overwhelming responsibility. Geert Wilders, a member of Parliament in the Netherlands and one of Europe’s only clear-sighted political leaders, accused her of having blood on her hands. He is right.

When she decided to open the doors of Germany to hundreds of thousands of Muslims from the Middle East and more distant countries, she must have known that jihadists were hidden among the people flooding in. She also must have known that the German police had no way of controlling the mass that entered and would be quickly overwhelmed by the number of people it would have to control. She did it anyway.

When hundreds of rapes and sexual assaults took place in Cologne and other cities in Germany on last year’s New Year’s Eve, she said that the perpetrators should be punished “regardless of their origin”, but she did not change her policy. When attacks took place in Hanover, Essen, Wurzburg, and Munich, she delayed comments, then pronounced sanitized sentences on the “need” to fight crime and terror. But she still did not change policy.

She only changed her position recently, it seems because she wants to be a candidate again in 2017, and saw her popularity declining.

The comments she made immediately after the December 19 attacks were mind-numbing. She said that “if the perpetrator is a refugee”, it will be “very difficult to bear” and it will be “particularly repugnant for all Germans who help refugees on a daily basis.”

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What Was Behind the Trial of Geert Wilders?

Much has been made of the 2016 populist revolt in the West, beginning with Britain’s June 23 decision to leave the European Union, and culminating with the victory of president-elect Donald Trump on November 8. The narrative of change is understandably seductive, but has recently been dealt successive blows by the domestic circumstances that so characterize European politics.

Despite traditions of liberty being placed at the heart of the successful Trump campaign, the promise of a new economic approach also enabled him to cross the line on election day.

The Brexit vote similarly took place under a referendum that allowed Britain’s voting populace to defy the stated preference of the majority of their elected parliamentarians.

The most disturbing recent development on the European continent, however, was Friday’s conviction of Geert Wilders on two charges, “inciting discrimination and insulting a minority group,” for asking supporters whether they wanted “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands, at a small public rally in a bar in The Hague, on March 19, 2014.

This “hate speech” case against Wilders similarly pits popular alarm over the consequences of mass migration plus a principled politician who for years — in the face of threats against his life, has agitated for genuine change — against an untrustworthy, politicized legal system which appears at odds with both Wilders and popular alarm. Several Dutch Labour Party politicians, who said far more damaging things about Moroccans than Wilders did, yet were never prosecuted:

  • “We also have sh*t Moroccans over here.” — Rob Oudkerk, a Dutch Labour Party (PvDA) politician.
  • “We must humiliate Moroccans.” — Hans Spekman, PvDA politician.
  • “Moroccans have the ethnic monopoly on trouble-making.” — Diederik Samsom, PvDA politician.

Although Wilders’s trial clearly appears an orchestrated miscarriage of justice, it is arguably not helpful to view the basis for his prosecution through an absolutist defense of freedom of speech, intuitively understandable to Americans. No constitutional equivalent of the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from passing laws abridging the freedom of speech, exists in Europe.

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The Dutch Death Spiral: From Paradise to Bolshevik Thought Police

A country whose most outspoken filmmaker was slaughtered by an Islamist; whose bravest refugee, hunted by a fatwa, fled to the U.S.; whose cartoonists must live under protection, had better think twice before condemning a Member of Parliament, whose comments about Islam have forced him to live under 24-hour protection for more than a decade, for “hate speech.” Poor Erasmus! The Netherlands is no longer a safe haven for free thinkers. It is the Nightmare for Free Speech.

The most prominent politician in the Netherlands, MP Geert Wilders, has just been convicted of “inciting discrimination and insulting a minority group,” for asking at a really if there should be fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands. Many newly-arrived Moroccans in the Netherlands seem to have been responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime there.

Paul Cliteur, Professor of Jurisprudence at Leiden University, who was called as an expert witness, summed up the message coming from the court: “It would have been better if the Dutch state had sent a clear signal [to terrorists] via a Dutch court that we foster a broad notion of the freedom of expression in the Netherlands.”

Here are just a few details to help understand what Wilders experiences every day because of his ideas: No visitors are allowed into his office except after a long wait to be checked. The Dutch airline KLM refused to board him on a flight to Moscow for reasons of “security.” His entourage is largely anonymous. When a warning level rises, he does not know where he will spend the night. For months, he was able to see his wife only twice a week, in a secure apartment, and then only when the police allowed it. The Parliament had to place him in the less visible part of the building, in order better to protect him. He often wears a bulletproof vest to speak in public. When he goes to a restaurant, his security detail must first check the place out.

Wilders’s life is a nightmare. “I am in jail,” he has said; “they are walking around free.”

The historic dimension of Wilders’s conviction is related not only to the terrible injustice done to this MP, but that it was the Netherlands that, for the first time in Europe, criminalized dissenting opinions about Islam.

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The Guilty Verdict Dutch Politicians Wanted So Much

The trial of Geert Wilders has resulted in a guilty verdict. The court – which was located in a maximum security courthouse in the Netherlands near Schipol airport – found the leader of the PVV (Freedom Party) guilty of ‘insulting a group’ and of ‘inciting discrimination’. The trial began with a number of complaints, but the proceedings gradually honed down onto one single comment made by Wilders at a party rally in March 2014. This was the occasion when Wilders asked the crowd whether they wanted ‘fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands’. The crowd of supporters shouted ‘Fewer’.

On Friday morning the court decided not to impose a jail sentence or a fine, as prosecutors had requested. The intention of the court is clearly that the ‘guilty’ sentence should be enough.

For Wilders himself this will have been another unpleasant ordeal. But he may have become used to them by now. Five years ago Wilders was put on trial for insulting a religion. The first trial fell apart after one of the judges was found to have attempted to influence the evidence of one of Wilders’s defence witnesses. Once the trial restarted, it resulted in an acquittal. So the Dutch Justice system turn out to have been “second-time lucky” in getting the conviction they appear to have so badly wanted.

This is apparent from remarks, incomparably more damning than “fewer Moroccans”, made by members of the Netherlands’ Labour Party, who of course were never prosecuted:

  • “We also have s*** Moroccans over here.” Rob Oudkerk, Dutch Labour Party (PvDA) politician.
  • “We must humiliate Moroccans.” Hans Spekman, PvDA politician.
  • “Moroccans have the ethnic monopoly on trouble-making.” Diederik Samsom, PvDA politician.

Wilders’s legal trials are perhaps the least of it. For more than a decade Wilders has had to live under permanent security protection because of the threat to his life from Muslim extremists in the Netherlands. One might agree or disagree with a person who believes there should be fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands, but it requires an extraordinary degree of callousness to prosecute someone whose life is in danger from parts of such a community for voicing a desire not to see that community grow. The irony cannot have been lost on the wider world that on the same day that news of Wilders’s conviction came out the other news from Holland was the arrest of a 30 year-old terror suspect in Rotterdam suspected of being about to carry out ‘an act of terrorism’.

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Critics of Islam on Trial in Europe: Wilders Convicted

After the Second World War and the horrors of Nazism and Stalinism, a central tenet of Western democracies has been that you can put people on trial, but not ideas and opinions. Europe is now allowing dangerous “human rights” groups and Islamists to use tribunals to restrict the borders of our freedom of expression, exactly as in Soviet show trials. “Militant anti-racism will be for the 21st century what communism was for the 20th century,” the prominent French philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut has predicted.

A year ago, Christoph Biró, a respected columnist and editor of the largest Austrian newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, wrote an article blaming “young men, testosterone-fuelled Syrians, who carry out extremely aggressive sexual attacks” (even before mass the sexual assaults of New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Hamburg and other cities). The article sparked much controversy, and it received a large number of complaints and protests. Biró needed four weeks off work because of these attacks and later (under pressure) admitted that he had “lost a sense of proportion”. Prosecutors in Graz recently charged Biró with “hate speech” after a complaint by a so-called human rights organization, SOS Mitmensch. The case will be decided in court.

Journalists, novelists and intellectuals throughout Europe are now told to raise their right hand before a judge and swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth — as if that were not what they were doing all along and for what they are now being prosecuted. It is an alarming but very common sight today, where “hate speech” has become a political weapon to dispatch whoever may not agree with you.

It is not the right of a democracy to quibble about the content of articles or cartoons. In the West, we paid a high price for the freedom to read and write them. It is not up to those who govern to grant the right of thought and speech, that belongs to the free initiative in the democracies. The right to express our own opinion was paid for dearly, but if it is not exercised, it can quickly disappear.

A grotesque new legal front was just opened in Paris. The French philosopher Pascal Bruckner began his trial, where he opened his defense with a quotation from Jean-Paul Sartre: “The guns are loaded with words”. Bruckner, one of the most famous essayists of France, is on trial for having spoken out against the “collaborators of Charlie Hebdo‘s assassins”.

“I will say the names: The organizations ‘The Indivisibles’ of Rokhaya Diallo and ‘The Indigenous of the Republic’, the rapper Nekfeu who wanted ‘a bonfire for those dogs’ (Charlie Hebdo), all those who have justified with ideology the death of the twelve journalists”.

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