Explained: Who is Geert Wilders, the ‘Dutch Trump’ supporting Nupur Sharma?
The far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders has hailed Nupur Sharma as ‘heroic’. Often compared to America’s Donald Trump, he has called for a ban on mosques in the Netherlands and campaigned to stop migrants
Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) now-suspended spokeswoman Nupur Sharma, who is receiving flak from the world for her derogatory comments on Prophet Muhammad, has found a rare supporter in Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders.
The far-right politician from the Netherlands defended Sharma, saying she was speaking “nothing but the truth about Prophet Muhammad and his wife Aisha”. He has been actively tweeting in defence of the BJP leader, even hailing her as a hero.
“Appeasement never works. It will only make things worse. So, my dear friends from India, don’t be intimidated by Islamic countries. Stand up for freedom and be proud and steadfast in defending your politician Nupur Sharma who spoke the truth about Muhammad,” another tweet by Wilders reads.
Also read: Explained: List of countries attacking India rises, but their track record on religion questionable
Calling the Islamic world condemning Sharma’s remarks hypocrites, he wrote that these “nations have no democracy, no rule of law, no freedom”
Don’t listen to the hypocrites. Islamic nations have no democracy, no rule of law, no freedom. They persecute minorities and disrespect human rights like no one else.
THEY should be criticized!
The ideology of #Muhammad is offensive and abusive, not the heroic #NupurSharma!
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) June 7, 2022
Who is Geert Wilders?
The 59-year-old politician is the founder of Party for Freedom, the third-largest party in the Netherlands. He has been a leader in the House of Representatives since 1998 and is often called the “Dutch Trump” because of his peroxide platinum hair. But the comparison does not end at that.
Although he considers himself “right-wing liberal”, he is known for his anti-Islam comments and is reportedly under protection because of threats to his life. He claims that after openly supporting Sharma, he has once again received “threats from Muslim”.
I receive many death threats now from Muslims who want to kill me for supporting #NupurSharma who spoke the truth and nothing but the truth about Muhammad and Aisha.
My message to them is: go to hell. You have no morals. We stand for the truth. We stand for freedom.
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) June 8, 2022
Like Trump, he is infamous for his stand against migrants. The Dutch member of Parliament faces several accusations for inciting religious hated and for his fiery, often hate-filled speeches.
What are his policies?
The focus of Wilders’ party is all things anti-Muslim. During the 2017 election, the manifesto included shutting down of mosques and a ban on headscarves in public to “de-Islamise the Netherlands” and “zero asylum seekers and no immigrants anymore from Islamic countries”.
He called for sealing of Dutch borders to Muslims and pulling the country out of the European Union (EU).
However, he suspended his 2017 campaign after a secret service agent, who was part of the team responsible for his security, was accused of leaking the details of his cover to a criminal organisation.
After Brexit, he demanded a Dutch referendum on membership to the bloc. He believes the Netherlands has suffered at the hands of a tyrannical EU and out-of-touch political elite.
What are his controversial statements?
In 2009, Wilders created a short film Fitna, which was a mishmash of images from 9/11, the Madrid bombings, and words from the Quran. It was slammed for being Islamophobic and he was temporarily banned from entering Britain after it aired. In 2012, he went on to write a book, “Marked for Dead: Islam’s War Against the West and Me”, according to a Vox report.
He is very popular in the American far-right circuit. In April 2015, he was invited to speak at the Conservative Opportunity Society, a coalition of right-wing politicians in the United States House of Representatives. “There is no moderate Islam. Islam has changed Europe beyond recognition,” Wilders had told the audience. “Our duty is clear: In order to solve the problem, we have to stop mass immigration to the West from Islamic countries.”
In another video, Wilders said, “All the values Europe stands for — freedom, democracy, human rights — are incompatible with Islam.”
The politician wrote a piece in Breitbart, the American far-right media publication, in which he spoke about pulling Europe with him to the right. He called for a political revolution in Western Europe where “out of political-correctness”, leaders “have deliberately turned a blind eye to Islam”.
After he was convicted in a hate speech trial over his promise to reduce the number of Moroccans in the Netherlands in 2017, he called the “scum”.
“There is a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland who make the streets unsafe,” he said during the election campaign. “If you want to regain your country, make the Netherlands for the people of the Netherlands again, then you can only vote for one party.”
On Twitter, where Wilders has close to 988.6K followers, his constant demand is: Stop Islam. Last year, during Eid, he tweeted a video which said, “Ramadan, not our culture, not our history, not our future,” “Stop Islamisation,” and “Islam does not belong in the Netherlands”.
While he has often been compared to Trump, what stands out is his long career in politics. He is the fourth-longest-serving Dutch parliamentarian.
Political analysts call him a “prototype of a new wave of far-right extremist”. “Geert Wilders is not claiming to be against liberal democracy but claims to defend liberal democracy, he claims to defend rights of women,” Anton Pelinka, a professor of political science and nationalism at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary told Vox. He is a defender of the rights of gays and lesbians. These are far from being traditional, right-wing extremist positions.
That said, he remains as controversial as they come.
With inputs from agencies
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