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Geert Wilders From Wikipedia, the free Parliamentary leader [Abbreviated]
Geert Wilders (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɣeːrt ˈwɪldərs]; born 6 September 1963) is a Dutch politician and leader of the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid – PVV), the third-largest political party in the Netherlands. He is the Parliamentary group leader of his party in the Dutch House of Representatives. In the formation in 2010 of the current Rutte cabinet, a minority cabinet of VVD and CDA, he actively participated in the negotiations, resulting in a "toleration agreement" (gedoogakkoord) between the PVV and these parties. Wilders is best known for his criticism of Islam, summing up his views by saying, "I don't hate Muslims, I hate Islam".
Born in Venlo, he was raised a Roman Catholic. Wilders left the church at his coming of age. His travels to Israel as a young adult, as well as to neighbouring Arab countries, helped form his political views. He worked as a speechwriter for the conservative-liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie – VVD), and later served as parliamentary assistant to party leader Frits Bolkestein from 1990 to 1998. He was elected to the Utrecht city council in 1996, and later to the House of Representatives. Citing irreconcilable differences over the party's position on the accession of Turkey to the European Union, he left the VVD in 2004 to form his own party, the Party for Freedom.
Wilders has campaigned to stop what he views as the "Islamisation of the Netherlands". He compares the Quran with Mein Kampf and has campaigned to have the book banned in the Netherlands. He advocates ending immigration from Muslim countries, and supports banning the construction of new mosques. He was a speaker at the Facing Jihad Conference held in Jerusalem in 2008, which discussed the dangers of jihad, and has called for a hard line against what he called the "street terror" exerted by minorities in Dutch cities. His controversial 2008 film about his views on Islam, Fitna, received international attention. He has been described as populist, labelled far right, and defended by one British newspaper opinion columnist as a mainstream politician with legitimate concerns. Wilders views himself as a right-wing liberal, and has refused to align himself with other European far-right leaders such as Jean-Marie Le Pen and Jörg Haider.
Wilders' goal after he graduated from secondary school was to see the world. Because he did not have enough money to travel to Australia, his preferred destination, he went to Israel instead. For several years he volunteered in a moshav and worked for several firms, becoming in his own words "a true friend of Israel". With the money he saved, he travelled to the neighbouring Arab countries, and was moved by the lack of democracy in the region. When he returned to the Netherlands, he retained Israeli ideas about counter-terrorism and a "special feeling of solidarity" for the country.
On 11 September 2010, 2,000 people gathered close by the site of a planned Muslim community center near the site of the World Trade Center attacks, on 11 September 2001, where they were addressed by Wilders who flew from The Netherlands to urge the crowd: "This is where we have draw the line. We must never give a free hand to those who want to subjugate us," Wilders added. "Draw this line so that New York... will never become New Mecca."
Wilders strongly opposes the Dutch political system in general. He believes that there is a ruling elite of parliamentarians who only care about their own personal careers and disregard the will of the people. He also blames the Dutch system of multi-party coalition governments for a lack of clear and effective policies. In his view, Dutch society advocates rule by consensus and cultural relativism, while he believes that this should change so as to "not tolerate the intolerant".
On foreign relations, Wilders has largely supported Israel and has criticized countries he perceives as enemies of Israel. Furthermore, he has made some proposals in the Dutch Parliament inspired by Israeli policies. For example, he supports implementing Israel's administrative detention in the Netherlands, a practice heavily criticized by human rights groups, which he calls "common sense".
Wilders published the version of his political manifesto called Klare Wijn ("Clear Wine") in March 2006. The program proposed ten key points to be implemented:
Considerable reduction of taxes and state regulations.
Replacement of the present Article 1 of the Dutch constitution, guaranteeing equality under the law, by a clause stating the cultural dominance of the Christian, Jewish and humanist traditions.
Reduction of the influence of the European Union, which may no longer be expanded with new member states, especially Turkey; the European Parliament will be abolished. Dutch financial contributions to the European Union should be reduced by billions of euros.
A five year moratorium on the immigration of non-Western foreigners who intend to stay in the Netherlands. Foreign residents will no longer have the right to vote in municipal elections.
A five-year moratorium on the founding of new mosques and Islamic schools; a permanent ban on preaching in any language other than Dutch. Foreign imams will not be allowed to preach. Radical mosques will be closed and radical Muslims will be expelled.
Restoration of educational standards, with an emphasis on the educational value of the family.
Introduction of minimum penalties, and higher maximum penalties; introduction of administrative detention for terrorist suspects. Street terrorism will be punished by boot camps and denaturalisation and deportation of immigrant offenders.
Restoration of respect and better rewards for teachers, policemen, health care workers and military personnel.
Wilders is best known for his criticism of Islam, summing up his views by saying, "I don't hate Muslims, I hate Islam". Although identifying Islamic extremists as 5–15% of Muslims, he argues that "there is no such thing as 'moderate Islam'" and that the "Koran also states that Muslims who believe in only part of the Koran are in fact apostates". He suggests that Muslims should "tear out half of the Koran if they wished to stay in the Netherlands" because it contains "terrible things" and that Muhammad would "... in these days be hunted down as a terrorist".
On 8 August 2007, Wilders opined in an open letter to the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that the Koran, which he called a "fascist book", should be outlawed in the Netherlands, like Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. He has stated that "The book incites hatred and killing and therefore has no place in our legal order". He has also referred to Mohammed as "the devil". In Sept 2009 Wilders proposed to put a tax on Hijab wearing by Muslim women. He suggested women could purchase a license at a cost of €1000 and that the money raised could be used in projects beneficial to women's emancipation.
He believes that all Muslim immigration to the Netherlands should be halted and all settled immigrants should be paid to leave. Referring to the increased population of Muslims in the Netherlands, he has said:
Take a walk down the street and see where this is going. You no longer feel like you are living in your own country. There is a battle going on and we have to defend ourselves. Before you know it there will be more mosques than churches!
In a speech before the Dutch Parliament, he stated:
Islam is the Trojan Horse in Europe. If we do not stop Islamification now, Eurabia and Netherabia will just be a matter of time. One century ago, there were approximately 50 Muslims in the Netherlands. Today, there are about 1 million Muslims in this country. Where will it end? We are heading for the end of European and Dutch civilisation as we know it. Where is our Prime Minister in all this?
In reply to my questions in the House he said, without batting an eyelid, that there is no question of our country being Islamified. Now, this reply constituted a historical error as soon as it was uttered. Very many Dutch citizens, Madam Speaker, experience the presence of Islam around them. And I can report that they have had enough of burkas, headscarves, the ritual slaughter of animals, so‑called honour revenge, blaring minarets, female circumcision, hymen restoration operations, abuse of homosexuals, Turkish and Arabic on the buses and trains as well as on town hall leaflets, halal meat at grocery shops and department stores, Sharia exams, the Finance Minister's Sharia mortgages, and the enormous overrepresentation of Muslims in the area of crime, including Moroccan street terrorists.
Nonetheless, Wilders has traveled widely in the Arab world and Der Spiegel has stated that Wilders will "wax poetic" over those "magnificent countries". Wilders has also said that "It's a real shame that these places are so chaotic."
Wilders argues that Islam is not a religion, but rather a totalitarian political ideology such as communism and fascism.
Wilders and Israel
Wilders lived in Israel for two years during his youth and has visited the country 40 times in the last 25 years.
Wilders stated about Israel: "I have visited many interesting countries in the Middle East – from Syria to Egypt, from Tunisia to Turkey, from Cyprus to Iran – but nowhere did I have the special feeling of solidarity that I always get when I land at Ben Gurion International Airport." Dutch public TV channel Nederland 2's daily news programme Netwerk reported that numerous American supporters of Israel financially supported Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) and openly approved of his message towards Islam and Islamic terrorism. Wilders told an audience during the report that "We [in the West] are all Israel". He has also said "Israel is the West's first line of defence" against what he perceives to be a threat posed by Islam.
Following the Dutch general election, 2010, in which the PVV were the third biggest party, Wilders said Jordan should be renamed Palestine. The Jordanian government responded saying Wilders' speech was reminiscent of the Israeli right wing. His speech said "Jordan is Palestine. Changing its name to Palestine will end the conflict in the Middle East and provide the Palestinians with an alternate homeland." He also said Israel deserves a special status in the Dutch government because it was fighting for "Jerusalem" in its name.
"If Jerusalem falls into the hands of the Muslims, Athens and Rome will be next. Thus, Jerusalem is the main front protecting the West. It is not a conflict over territory but rather an ideological battle, between the mentality of the liberated West and the ideology of Islamic barbarism. There has been an independent Palestinian state since 1946, and it is the kingdom of Jordan."
He called on the Dutch government to refer to Jordan as Palestine and move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Fitna is a 2008 short film written and commissioned by Wilders that explores Koranic-inspired motivations for terrorism, Islamic universalism, and Islam in the Netherlands. Its title comes from the Arabic word fitna, which describes "disagreement and division among people" or a "test of faith in times of trial".
It is the subject of an international controversy and debate on free speech. Despite the legal troubles surrounding the film, Wilders insists that before he released it, he consulted numerous lawyers in the field, who found nothing worth prosecution. Jordan has summoned Wilders to court, with the film deemed to "incite hatred". Militant Sunni Islamist group Al-Qaeda issued a call to murder Wilders after its release.
In January 2010, Wilders was invited again to show his anti-Quran movie Fitna in the British House of Lords by Lord Pearson UK Independence Party (UKIP), and Baroness Cox cross-bencher. Wilders accepted the invitation and was present for a presentation of the movie in the House of Lords on 5 March. In his speech he quoted ominous words from Winston Churchill's book The River War from 1899:
"Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. No stronger retrograde force exists in the World. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step ... the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome."
At the ensuing press conferences, he called the prophet Muhammad a "barbarian, a mass murderer, and a pedophile" and referring to Islam as a "fascist ideology" which was "violent, dangerous, and retarded". Wilders also reportedly called Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan a "total freak". Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende called these comments "irresponsible", and Maxime Verhagen, Dutch caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs, publicly condemned Wilders's remarks and behaviour:
"He incites discord among people in a distasteful manner. And in the meantime he damages the interests of the Dutch population and the reputation of the Netherlands in the world."
On 21 January 2009, a three-judge court ordered prosecutors to try him.
The Middle East Forum has established a Legal Defence Fund for Wilders's defence. The New York Times ran an op-ed criticizing his views and arguing that "for a man who calls for a ban on the Koran to act as the champion of free speech is a bit rich", concluding, however that the lawsuit against Wilders might not be "a good thing for democracy", because it made him "look more important than he should be."
A survey by Angus Reid Global Monitor has found that public opinion is deeply split on the prosecution, with 50% supporting Wilders and 43% opposed. However, public support for the Party for Freedom has greatly increased since Wilders' legal troubles began, with the Party for Freedom virtually tied with the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy to be the third most popular party. According to Radio Netherlands, "Dutch politicians themselves seem to be keeping quiet on the issue; they are probably worried that media attention will only serve to make the controversial politician more popular".
In late October 2010, the Dutch court approved a request from Geert Wilders to have new judges appointed forcing the court to retry the case. On 7 February 2011, Wilders returned to the court room in order that his legal team can present evidence from Islamic experts which the court rejected in 2010, including Mohammed Bouyeri, who murdered film-maker Theo van Gogh, and Dutch academic Hans Jansen.
On 23 June 2011, Wilders was acquitted of all charges. A Dutch court noted that his speech was legitimate political debate, but on the edge. Because both the public prosecutor and the defense requested complete acquittal, the verdict will most likely not be appealed.