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Monday, November 22, 2004

Dutch Politicians Hide From Muslims

Death threats force controversial Dutch MP underground. (Via LGF)

GEERT WILDERS, the Dutch MP and controversial critic of Islam, has two policemen by his side even when in his high-security parliamentary office in case someone tries to decapitate him. Each day, he does not know where he is going to sleep that night, as he is taken from safe house to safe house in a convoy of armoured cars.

He was taken into hiding when police investigating the murder of the film-maker Theo van Gogh on November 2 uncovered a network of radical Muslims with advanced plans to kill Mr Wilders, and other “enemies of Islam”. A video circulating on the internet offered 72 virgins in paradise to any Muslim who beheaded him.

“My life has changed completely. I am sleeping very badly. To think that someone plans to kill me is something that no person would have a good night’s rest about,” he said. “Even though I have this protection, I am afraid. Even when I am on the floor of the parliament, I don’t feel comfortable.”

The maverick parliamentarian, a former speech-writer for Frits Bolkestein, the Dutch European Commissioner, rose to prominence with his denunciations of radical Islam. Seen as the heir of Pim Fortuyn, the assassinated anti-Islamic populist, his critics call him a far-right racist, inflaming the passions that led to a spate of mosque burnings after Van Gogh’s murder. His supporters claim that he is telling the truth about radical Islam that others refuse to face up to.

His hardline message is proving popular with the Dutch electorate, whose attitudes have hardened so much in the past fortnight that, according to one survey, 40 per cent hope that Muslims no longer feel at home in the Netherlands. On Monday he will set up his own political party. Opinion polls suggest that it would be the country’s second-biggest, getting 15 per cent of the vote or 23 seats of the parliament’s 150.

Two critics of Islam have been murdered in the Netherlands, and Mr Wilders is one of three Dutch MPs under permanent police protection after half a dozen were issued with death threats. It is a huge change for the tolerant, consensual country that until recently boasted that its prime minister could cycle down the street in public.

The problem, Mr Wilders preaches, is too much tolerance. “I believe we have been far too tolerant for too long, especially being too tolerant of intolerance, and we only got intolerance back.”

With radicalism spreading among the country’s one million Muslims — 5.5 per cent of the population — Mr Wilders wants the top 150 known terrorist sympathisers, monitored by the security services, to be jailed or deported without trial, and the 20 most radical mosques closed down. He also wants a ban on all non- Western immigration for five years while better employment and education opportunities are put in place to integrate ethnic minorities into mainstream society.

“I believe people who work against our democracy, and who favour this fascistic Islamic radicalism, don’t deserve the rights of our democracy. They don’t deserve the rights of the rule of law. Without going to a judge, they should be arrested and expelled,” he said.

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