People take part in a protest against Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch hard-right Freedom Party, in Amsterdam March 22, 2014. REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares
The Dutch-Moroccan Alliance (SMN) is filing a complaint over the hateful comments made last week by Dutch Politician Geert Wilders. At a rally, Wilders asked supporters whether they wanted, â€œfewer or more Moroccansâ€ in the Netherlands, to which the crowd enthusiastically responded, â€œfewer!â€ Wilders then announced that, â€œWeâ€™ll organize that.â€
The SMN has argued that Wildersâ€™ rhetoric falls under the category of hate-speech because he attacked a specific ethnic group. The statement, they say, is akin to a call for ethnic cleansing, though Wildersâ€™ party claims that it was simply a statement on immigration policy.
Wilders is an extremely controversial and divisive figure both in the Netherlands and around the world. He is the founder and current leader of the Freedom Party (PVV), the fourth largest political party in the Netherlands. Wilders has, in the past, called for a ban on the Quran in the Netherlands, spoke against Prophet Muhammad (s), and proposed a tax on women who wear the hijab. He has also referred to Islam as a Trojan Horse being employed against Europe.
In 2009, Wilders was placed on trial for hate-speech, and polls showed that the Dutch public was deeply divided over his prosecution. Around the world, many strongly criticized the hateful nature of his views, while others defend his right to free speech. Wilders was eventually acquitted, though his trial caused dramatic publicity and inflamed tensions.
Although Wildersâ€™ party has many characteristics of a right-wing fringe group, it has mainstream support in the Netherlands, which is a deeply troubling prospect. Wildersâ€™ rise to popularity epitomizes the emergence of an anti-Islamic sentiment that is sweeping Europe.
Anders Behring Breivik, the infamous Norwegian shooter who killed 77 people in July of 2011, cited Wilders as an inspiration, and described his party as, â€œthe only true party of conservatives.â€ Breivik cited motivations of anti-Islam and xenophobia, and his attacks spawned several attempted â€œcopycatâ€ attacks around Europe.
On the right-wing, there is an ever-increasing tolerance for radicals such as Wilders, or even Breivik. In fact, following Breivikâ€™s massacres, numerous anti-Islamic Norwegian parties experienced a rise in membership. Recent polling has even indicated that Wildersâ€™ party is the most popular in the Netherlands.
The problem lies in the ends, but with the means. Wildersâ€™ party supports a dramatic reduction in immigration, and a Dutch withdrawal from the European Union, and he has some legitimate reasons for doing so. However, by portraying this as a cultural battle to stop, â€œthe Islamization of Europe,â€ Wilders is playing a very dangerous game.
The last time a charismatic right-wing leader gained so much popular support, Europe ended up with Adolf Hitler. The comparison may seem somewhat far-fetched, but it is often forgotten that Hitler was democratically elected, at a time when xenophobic and nationalistic sentiment was at a peak.
Wildersâ€™ slanderous comments about Moroccans are just the latest in the career of the highly controversial politician. In the words of the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, â€œHe again has gone too far.â€