Geert Wilders
Dutch politician
Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders is a Dutch politician and the founder and leader of the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid – PVV), the fourth-largest political party in the Netherlands. Wilders is the Parliamentary group leader of his party in the Dutch House of Representatives.
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Geert Wilders's personal information overview.
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Wilders: Dutch coalition talks ignore his 1.3 million voters
ABC News - 1 day
Anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders says mainstream parties discussing the makeup of the next Dutch ruling coalition are shutting him out and sidelining 1.3 million people who voted for his party in last week's parliamentary elections
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ABC News article
We Are Thinking About Populism Wrong
Huffington Post - 3 days
We have to talk about the P-word. It is truly everywhere these days. And everyone is using it: men, women, I even heard some children say it. I’m talking, of course, about populism. You can’t read an article about politics these days without it. Virtually any election or referendum is set up as a struggle between an emboldened populism and an embattled establishment. There is no room for anything else. Don’t get me wrong, populism is a useful concept to understand contemporary politics in Europe, and far beyond, but only under two strict conditions. First, it must be clearly defined and, second, it should be applied as one of several concepts to understand politics. Unfortunately, this is not the case in most accounts of politics and populism today. The dominance of the populism lens makes it so we see both too much populism and too little non-populism. The dominance of the populism lens makes it so we see both too much populism and too little non-populism. Popu ...
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Huffington Post article
Will Steve King’s immigrant comments keep wary tourists out of Iowa?
Yahoo News - 4 days
A travel boycott of Iowa could have serious economic impact on the state, which takes in around $8 billion a year in tourism revenue, according to state officials. Last week, staffers grappled with an unwieldy influx of correspondence following Representative King's retweet of a post endorsing Geert Wilders, a controversial, far-right candidate for Dutch prime minister who came in second place during a Wednesday election. "We’re in a politically charged environment," Shawna Lode, the tourism office’s manager, said Friday, according to The Des Moines Register.
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Yahoo News article
Weekend Roundup: As The West Fragments, China Cements A Path Ahead
Huffington Post - 6 days
This week we witnessed two contrasting systems of governance at work. In the Netherlands, we watched the divisive system of Western multi-party democracy struggle to contain volatile populism. In China, the annual gathering of the “two sessions” ― the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference ― demonstrated the consensus-driven nature of China’s one-party system by reaffirming ongoing reforms. While the West is fragmenting, China is cementing its path forward. The flaws in both systems are closely related to their strengths. While rough-and-tumble political battles may rage within the great tent of China’s 88 million member Communist Party, the aim of its political process is to unify the body politic in order to put a steady wind under the wings of policy decisions that, to be effective, must be carried out without a break in continuity over the long term. It is this core attribute of Chinese governance that ha ...
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Huffington Post article
How Dutch fought back against far right
CNN - 6 days
The Dutch election was billed as a new dawn for far-right populism in Europe. But when it came to voting day, the public turned their backs on Geert Wilders and his anti-immigrant rhetoric.
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CNN article
Wilders lost, but Dutch populism lives on
Reuters.com - 7 days
"Dutch Trump" Geert Wilders lost the poll, but that doesn't mean Dutch populism died with his hopes of victory. Politics had to shift rightwards to defeat him. Reuters Rosanna Philpott meets Senior Correspondent Thomas Escritt in the Netherlands.
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Reuters.com article
Early returns give Dutch PM Rutte big lead over far-right Wilders
Yahoo News - 8 days
By Thomas Escritt and Toby Sterling AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands' center-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte roundly saw off a challenge by anti-Islam, anti-EU Geert Wilders in an election on Wednesday, early returns showed, a huge relief to other EU governments facing a wave of nationalism. "It appears that the VVD will be the biggest party in the Netherlands for the third time in a row," a beaming Rutte told cheering supporters at a post-election party in The Hague. "Tonight we'll celebrate a little." Rutte received congratulatory messages from European leaders and spoke with some by telephone.
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Yahoo News article
Geert Wilders, a Rising Anti-Muslim Voice
New York Times - 10 days
This is Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician with aspirations to be the next prime minister of the Netherlands. He has compared the Quran to "Mein Kampf" and has called Moroccans "scum."
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New York Times article
Dutch Election Expected To Be Another Test For Anti-Immigrant Stance
NPR - 10 days
Riots by Turkish immigrants raised tensions before Wednesday's general election in the Netherlands. After Brexit and the Trump win, will the fiery anti-Muslim Geert Wilders continue the populist roll?
Article Link:
NPR article
U.S. Rep. Steve King Tweets In Favor Of White Nationalism, Gets Little Pushback From Colleagues
Huffington Post - 11 days
function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has made no secret of how he views people who aren’t white, Christian or American-born. His latest public remark is being critically viewed as a paean to white nationalism by Democrats and Independents ― but not by his Republican colleagues in Congress. On Sunday afternoon, King suggested that Muslim children were preventing “our civilization” from being restored.  Wilders understands that culture and demographics are ...
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Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Geert Wilders
    FIFTIES
  • 2016
    Age 52
    On 18 March 2016, his trial began on the accusation of inciting "discrimination and hatred" against Moroccans living in the Netherlands.
    More Details Hide Details Wilders was born in the city of Venlo, in the southeast Netherlands. He is the youngest of four children, and was raised Catholic. He was born to a Dutch father and a mother born in colonial Indonesia, whose ancestors were Dutch Indonesian. His father worked as a manager for the printing and copying manufacturing company Océ, and had remained hidden from the Germans during the Second World War; an experience so traumatizing that he refused to physically enter Germany even forty years later. Wilders received his secondary education at the Mavo and Havo middle school and high school in Venlo. Reflecting passions that came to the fore later in his career, Wilders took a course in health insurance at the Stichting Opleiding Sociale Verzekeringen in Amsterdam and earned several law certificates at the Dutch Open University. 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.
  • 2015
    Age 51
    After the November 2015 Paris attacks, Wilders in an article on The New York Times, argued for a national referendum in Netherlands to decide about the refugee crisis.
    More Details Hide Details 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 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.
    On 28 July 2015, Vienna's prosecutors' office launched the probe and lodged calls for criminal proceedings against Geert Wilders for allegedly comparing the Quran to Mein Kampf, after Tarafa Baghajati had accused them of hate speech and denigrating religious teachings.
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    In May 2015, Geert Wilders was invited to an art exhibit presented by Stop Islamization of America in Garland, Texas that offered a $10,000 prize for the best drawing of Muhammad.
    More Details Hide Details Towards the end of the event, two gunmen opened fire outside, injuring a police officer before being shot dead by other police officers guarding the center.
    In April 2015, Wilders held a speech for Pegida in Dresden.
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  • 2014
    Age 50
    In March 2014 and during a meeting for his party on the evening of local elections, he sparked widespread controversy when he asked his attending supporters "Do you want, in this city (The Hague), and in the Netherlands, more or less Moroccans?", after which they chanted "Less!
    More Details Hide Details Less!". Wilders' response was "Then we'll fix it!". This action led several PVV representatives to resign, among whom two of the party's members of Parliament (Roland van Vliet and Joram van Klaveren), the party's leader in the European Parliament (Laurence Stassen), and a number of its provincial legislators and municipal councillors. Many politicians denounced what happened. In a response, young Moroccans launched a social media campaign called 'Born here', in which they posted pictures of themselves alongside their Dutch passports as a sign of challenge. Wilders generally considers himself to be a right-wing liberal, with a specific mix of positions independent of the European political spectrum and particular to iconoclastic Dutch society. He has stated that "My allies are not Le Pen or Haider.... We'll never join up with the fascists and Mussolinis of Italy. I'm very afraid of being linked with the wrong rightist fascist groups", saying instead his drive is issues such as freedom of expression and Dutch iconoclasm. Wilders views British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as his greatest political role model. People's Party for Freedom and Democracy figure Frits Bolkestein also heavily influenced his beliefs.
    In the March 2014 local elections, Wilders' Party for Freedom only took part in two municipalities, The Hague and Almere, and suffered minor losses in both.
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  • FORTIES
  • 2013
    Age 49
    After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Wilders wrote: I am threatened for the simple reason that I am an Islam critic.
    More Details Hide Details But, make no mistake, I am not the only one who is in danger. The Tsarnaev brothers drew inspiration from Feiz Mohammed's internet rants and decided to kill innocent onlookers at a marathon. Everyone is in danger. In 2010 Anwar al-Awlaki published a hit list in his Inspire magazine, including Wilders, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie along with cartoonists Lars Vilks and three Jyllands-Posten staff members: Kurt Westergaard, Carsten Juste, and Flemming Rose. The list was later expanded to include Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier, who was murdered in a terror attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, along with 11 other people. After the attack, Al-Qaeda called for more killings.
    They first announced their collaboration during a joint press conference in November 2013, where Wilders vowed that "today is the beginning of the liberation from the European elite, the monster in Brussels".
    More Details Hide Details Wilders visited the Sweden Democrats party and spoke with the Austrian Freedom party's leader Heinz-Christian Strache to help bring about the alliance, even while rejecting Hungary's Jobbik and Germany's NPD because he wanted to exclude "right-wing extremist and racist" parties. Three days after the elections finished, Le Pen and Wilders presented another press conference, this time with Matteo Salvini of Italy's Northern League, Harald Vilimsky of Austria's Freedom party and Gerolf Annemans of Belgium's Flemish Interest party, to promise that the parliamentary group would be formed. Eventually, however, the effort failed because it could only unite parties from six EU member states, one fewer than is required by parliamentary rules. This was in part due to a refusal to include the Greek Golden Dawn or Poland's Congress of the New Right, and in part because parties like the Danish People's party and the True Finns refused to join.
  • 2012
    Age 48
    On 2 October 2012 Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, while stating that Wilders' views were offensive, stated that he would not block the visa application.
    More Details Hide Details Bowen stated: "I have decided not to intervene to deny him a visa because I believe that our democracy is strong enough, our multiculturalism robust enough and our commitment to freedom of speech entrenched enough that our society can withstand the visit of a fringe commentator from the other side of the world". On the same day, the Q Society put out a press release criticizing the delays in issuing a visa, saying that Chris Bowen's announcement was "too little, too late" and announcing that Wilders' visit would be pushed back to February 2013 as there were still no visa documents available.
    In August 2012 he applied for a visa to give two speeches in October 2012.
    More Details Hide Details His staff and police protection officers were granted visas within three days, but Wilders was not.
    In 2012 Wilders was invited by the Q Society of Australia to visit Australia.
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    On 21 April 2012, Wilders withdrew his support from the Rutte cabinet because of new austerity measures that were about to be taken.
    More Details Hide Details Commenting on his withdrawal Wilders blamed the "European dictates" pointing to the 3% rule on budget deficit for European countries although his party had supported these rules earlier on. The cabinet blamed Wilders for what they call his "lack of political will" and "political cowardice" in regards to addressing the economic woes of the Netherlands. Wilders' withdrawal from the negotiations led to new elections in September. Wilders and the PVV ran on a campaign to have the Netherlands withdraw from the European Union and for a return to the guilder. The PVV won 10.1% of the vote and 15 seats in parliament, a loss of 9 seats.
  • 2011
    Age 47
    In July 2011, Anders Behring Breivik, the man who carried out the 2011 Norway attacks, expressed admiration for Geert Wilders and the Party for Freedom.
    More Details Hide Details Wilders immediately distanced himself strongly from Breivik. On 2 October 2011 Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported that a retired Dutch politician of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) Frits Bolkestein, who is sometime called the 'mentor' of Geert Wilders, "does not share his views". He reportedly said that "Wilders says things that are just not right and I think he totally exaggerates." While giving his opinion on burqa ban Mr Bolkestein said that he "disagrees with the recent introduction of a burqa ban, an idea championed by Geert Wilders." The Netherlands, he said, is the third European country to introduce such a ban after France and Belgium. "A ban makes martyrs of the few burqa wearers there are in the Netherlands", he said.
    On 23 June 2011, Wilders was acquitted of all charges.
    More Details Hide Details A Dutch court said that his speech was legitimate political debate, but on the edge. Because both the public prosecutor and the defence requested complete acquittal, the verdict will most likely not be appealed. In Dutch In English
    In June 2011, disclosure of Wilder's personal finances indicated that Wilders had founded a self-administered company one year earlier without reporting this via the public records of the House of Representatives, which he, as a parliamentarian, should have done.
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    Wilders spoke on Thursday, 12 May 2011, at Cornerstone Church in Madison, Tennessee, at the Tennessee Freedom Coalition inaugural Signature Series event.
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    On 7 February 2011, Wilders returned to the court room in order that his legal team could 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.
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  • 2010
    Age 46
    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.
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    In October 2010, Wilders supported the founding of the German Freedom Party.
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    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 (to) draw the line.
    More Details Hide Details 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 was extensively discussed in American diplomatic cables, released by WikiLeaks in December 2010. In a briefing to President Barack Obama, he was described as "no friend of the US: he opposes Dutch military involvement in Afghanistan; he believes development assistance is money wasted; he opposes NATO missions outside 'allied' territory; he is against most EU initiatives; and, most troubling, he foments fear and hatred of immigrants."
    On 6 August 2010, Wilders, who had become a regular guest with American conservatives and libertarians, announced that he would speak at a rally on 11 September in New York to protest the plans for Park51, a Muslim community center with a prayer space to be built near the World Trade Center site. The rally, to be held on the ten-year anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks, was organised by Stop Islamization of America, which was supported by former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who was originally announced as a speaker at the event, but never confirmed his appearance and cancelled a video appearance.
    More Details Hide Details According to SIOA's website world leaders, prominent politicians and 9/11 family members would be speaking at the rally, but Wilders was not mentioned by name, though he did attend as he had announced. In political circles in The Netherlands, the announcement caused widespread irritation about his plan. Christian Democrat senator Hans Hillen remarked that Wilders' words could endanger Dutch interests. Former NATO General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer advised Wilders not to make a speech, arguing that the international public does not know who is in the Dutch cabinet and who is in parliament and thus Wilders' speech could be mistaken as an official statement of the Dutch government. Also Christian Democrat party leader and acting Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen issued a warning. Also, the Dutch Foreign Ministry allegedly would have issued guidelines to its embassies on how to react to questions about the role being played by the PVV and Wilders in the formation of a new government. On 10 August 2010, the website of Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad published the ministry memo. The ministry itself however had declined "to confirm or deny" the authenticity of these guidelines. One question posed is how Wilders could be taking part in negotiations on forming a government coalition when he has been indicted for inciting hatred and discrimination, and for insulting a group of persons. Other questions covered possible bans on the building of new mosques, on the Quran and on Islamic schools in the Netherlands.
    Wilders plans IFA branches in the United States, Canada, Britain, France and Germany by late 2010. "The message, 'stop Islam, defend freedom', is a message that's not only important for the Netherlands but for the whole free Western world", Wilders stated in an address to reporters at the Dutch Parliament.
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    In July 2010, Wilders announced the International Freedom Alliance, a network of groups and individuals who "are fighting for freedom against Islam".
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    In March 2010, Wilders was told he is "not welcome" in the western German tourist resort of Monschau in the Eifel area, after he spent a weekend there, along with several armed bodyguards.
    More Details Hide Details Mayor Margareta Ritter (CDU) said she was concerned that his presence tainted her town with the suspicion that it was sympathetic to his views. As a result, Monschau was said to have been unfairly connected with "extremism" in the European press. "Anyone who pollutes the integration debate in the Netherlands with poisonous right-wing populism as Wilders has, and advocates prohibition of the Koran by a comparison with Hitler's Mein Kampf, is not welcome in Monschau. I wanted to distinguish Monschau from that." Ritter didn't say whether Wilders was enjoying a short vacation in her town or had been meeting with like-minded people. A demonstration to support Wilders was announced to take place in Berlin on 17 April.
    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 cross-bencher Baroness Cox.
    More Details Hide Details Wilders accepted the invitation and was present for a showing 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 Islamic prophet, Muhammad a "barbarian, a mass murderer, and a pedophile" and referred 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."
  • 2009
    Age 45
    In December 2009, Wilders came in second in two polls in the Netherlands for Politician of the Year.
    More Details Hide Details A panel of Dutch television viewers praised him as "the second best" politician this year (after his outspoken critic Alexander Pechtold), while his colleagues in parliament named him "the second worst" (after Rita Verdonk). Some Muslim critics of Wilders accuse him of using Quranic verses out of context. Because of Wilders' positions on Islam and calls for discrimination against Dutch citizens of minority ethnic descent, the Dutch–Moroccan rapper Appa, when interviewed about Wilders for a newspaper, said "if someone were to put a bullet in his head, I wouldn't mind". Wilders' views on Islam prompted the Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, to reprimand him. Editorials by AlterNet, The Montreal Gazette, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The New York Times have accused Wilders of hypocrisy given that, in their view, Wilders has called for the ban of the sale of the Quran while simultaneously arguing for his own personal freedom of speech. In a speech during a Dutch parliamentary debate, Wilders elaborated that he calls for the consistent application of Dutch laws restricting any act of expression that incites violence. Ideally, he would prefer to see nearly all such laws abolished. As such, he supports a European-wide constitutional protection of freedom of speech like that which exists in the United States.
    Wilders has become a controversial figure with polarized opinions on him from the world news media. Regarding his reputation in the Netherlands, Wilders stated in 2009, "Half of Holland loves me and half of Holland hates me.
    More Details Hide Details There is no in-between." In 2005, the Dutch public expressed mixed reactions to Wilders' general agenda, with 53% calling it "implausible" and 47% more supportive. He has been described as populist, labelled as both "extreme right" and far-right, and defended by others as a mainstream politician with legitimate concerns saying that such labels are shallow smear attempts. Wilders himself rejects the labels and has called such descriptions "scandalous". He has been accused of building his popularity on fear and resentment and vociferously defended for having the courage to talk openly about the problems unfettered immigration brings with it and the incompatibility of fundamentalist Islam with western values. On 15 December 2007, Wilders was declared "Politician of the Year" by NOS-radio, a mainstream Dutch radio station. The parliamentary press praised his ability to dominate political discussion and to attract the debate and to get into publicity with his well-timed one-liners. The editors eventually gave the title to Wilders because he was the only one who scored high amongst both the press and the general public.
    In September 2009 Wilders proposed to put a tax on Hijab wearing by Muslim women.
    More Details Hide Details 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. 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! 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 March 2009, in a party meeting in Venlo, Wilders said "I want to be prime minister", believing the PVV will eventually become the Netherlands' biggest party. "At some point it's going to happen and then it will be a big honour to fulfil the post of prime minister".
    More Details Hide Details Polling conducted throughout March 2009 by Maurice de Hond indicated the Party for Freedom was the most popular parliamentary party. The polls predicted that the party would take 21% of the national vote, winning 32 out of 150 seats in the Dutch parliament. If the polling results were replicated in an election, Wilders would be a major power broker. Under such circumstances, there would also be some likelihood of him becoming Prime Minister of the Netherlands. This has been partially attributed to timely prosecution attempts against him for hate speech and the travel ban imposed on him by the United Kingdom, as well as dissatisfaction with the Dutch government's response to the global financial crisis of 2008–2009. On 3 March 2010, elections for the local councils were held in the municipalities of The Netherlands. The PVV only contested these local elections in the Dutch towns The Hague and Almere, because of a shortage of good candidates. The big gains that were scored indicated that the party and Wilders might dominate the political scene in the run-up to the parliamentary elections scheduled on 9 June 2010. The PVV won in Almere and came second to the Dutch Labour party in The Hague. In Almere, the PVV won 21 percent of the vote to Labour's 18 percent, preliminary results showed. In The Hague, the PVV had 8 seats—second to Labour with 10 seats.
    On 16 October 2009, Wilders arrived in the United Kingdom and was quickly forced to move his press conference due to protests by about forty members of the organization Islam4UK, an organization that was later shut down under the UK's Terrorism Act 2000 on 14 January 2010.
    More Details Hide Details Though the Home Office had asserted that his entry into the country would not be blocked, a spokesman said his "statements and behaviour during a visit will inevitably impact on any future decisions to admit him." His visit to the UK met with protest, but Wilders called it "a victory" in a press conference. On his outspoken views on Islam, he said: "I have a problem with the Islamic ideology, the Islamic culture, because I feel that the more Islam that we get in our societies the less freedom we get." He opened the press conference with a quote from George Orwell's preface to Animal Farm: "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they don't want to hear". Lord Pearson, who had invited him, said his arrival was "a celebration of the victory of freedom of speech over those who would prevent it in this country, particularly the Islamists, the violent Jihadists who are on the march across the world and in the UK."
    After being declared persona non-grata by Jacqui Smith, then the Home Secretary, in February 2009, Wilders appealed the decision to Britain's Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.
    More Details Hide Details In October 2009, the tribunal overturned the ban. Wilders subsequently praised the ruling as "a triumph for freedom of speech" and stated that he plans to visit the United Kingdom in the near future. The ruling was criticized by the British Home Office, which stated that an appeal of the tribunal's ruling is being considered. A spokesman stated: "The Government opposes extremism in all its forms. The decision to refuse Wilders admission was taken on the basis that his presence could have inflamed tensions between our communities and have led to inter-faith violence. We still maintain this view."
    Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Baroness Cox, members of the House of Lords (the upper chamber of the British Parliament), invited Wilders to a show of 12 February 2009 viewing of Fitna in the Palace of Westminster.
    More Details Hide Details Two days before the showing, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith banned Wilders from entering the United Kingdom, labeling him an "undesirable person". Entry was denied under EU law, and reportedly supported under regulation 19 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, an EU law which allows a member state to refuse entry to individuals if they are regarded as constituting a threat to public policy, security or health. A Home Office spokesperson elaborated that "The Government opposes extremism in all its forms... and that was the driving force behind tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour that the Home Secretary announced in October last year" Wilders defied the ban and took a British Midland Airways flight from Amsterdam to London Heathrow Airport on 12 February, accompanied by television crews. Upon arrival, he was quickly detained by UK Border Agency officials, and deported on one of the next flights to the Netherlands. He called Prime Minister Gordon Brown "the biggest coward in Europe" and remarked, "Of course I will come back". Wilders had visited the United Kingdom in December 2008 without any problem. In response to the ban, both Pearson and Cox accused the government of "appeasing" militant Islam.
    In the spring of 2009, Wilders launched the "Facing Jihad World Tour", a series of screenings of Fitna to public officials and influential organizations around the globe, starting in Rome.
    More Details Hide Details In the United States, Wilders showed the film to the United States Congress on 26 February having been invited by Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl. Around 40 people attended the screening. American Muslims protested, but the groups said that they supported his right of free speech while still condemning his opinions. Wilders spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on 28 February. He appeared before the National Press Club and the Republican Jewish Coalition that week as well. Similar attempts in Britain led to a travel ban, and legislative blocks have prevented an appearance in Denmark. In September 2010, in an internet chat room, Australian Islamic fundamentalist preacher Feiz Mohammad urged his followers to behead Wilders. His rationale was his accusation that Wilders had "denigrated" Islam, and that that anyone who "mocks, laughs or degrades Islam" as Wilders had must be killed "by chopping off his head." The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf released an excerpt of the talk, after Dutch intelligence officials received a tip about the threat.
  • 2008
    Age 44
    Attempts to prosecute Wilders under Dutch anti-hate speech laws in June 2008 failed, with the public prosecutor's office stating that Wilders' comments contributed to the debate on Islam in Dutch society and also had been made outside parliament.
    More Details Hide Details The office released a statement reading: "That comments are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims does not mean that they are punishable. Freedom of expression fulfils an essential role in public debate in a democratic society. That means that offensive comments can be made in a political debate." On 21 January 2009, a three-judge court ordered prosecutors to try him. The Middle East Forum 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 found that public opinion is deeply split on the prosecution, with 50% supporting Wilders and 43% opposed. However, as of 2009, public support for the Party for Freedom had 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".
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
    Wilders was listed as the most threatened politician in the Netherlands in 2008.
    More Details Hide Details Wilders is said to have been "deprived... of a personal life for his... hatred of Islam". He is constantly accompanied by a permanent security detail of about six plainclothes police officers, and does not receive visitors unless they are cleared in advance, thoroughly searched, and escorted at all times. He lives in a state-provided safe house which is outfitted to be bulletproof, is heavily guarded by police, and has a panic room. He is driven from his home to his offices in parliament in an armored police vehicle, and wears a bulletproof vest. His office is located in the most isolated corner of the Dutch Parliament building, and was chosen because potential terrorists can get to it through only one corridor, making it easier for his bodyguards to repel an attack. He is married to Krisztina Wilders (née Marfai), a former diplomat of Hungarian origin, with whom he can only meet about once every week due to security concerns. The restrictions on his life because of this, he said, are "a situation that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy".
    His controversial 2008 film about his views on Islam, Fitna, received international attention.
    More Details Hide Details He has been described in the media as populist and labeled far-right, although this is disputed by other observers. Wilders, who long refused to align himself with European far-right leaders such as Jean-Marie Le Pen and Jörg Haider and expressed concern of being "linked with the wrong rightist fascist groups", views himself as a right-wing liberal. More recently, however, Wilders worked together with the French National Front's Marine Le Pen in a failed attempt to form a parliamentary group in the European Parliament which would also have included Austria's Freedom Party, Italy's Northern League, and Belgium's Flemish Interest.
    Wilders 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.
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  • 2007
    Age 43
    Several groups and persons in the Netherlands have called for legal action against Wilders, while others defended his right to free speech. On 15 August 2007, a representative of the Prosecutors' Office in Amsterdam declared that dozens of reports against Wilders had been filed, and that they were all being considered.
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  • 2004
    Age 40
    On 10 November 2004, two suspected attackers were captured after an hour-long siege of a building in The Hague.
    More Details Hide Details They were in possession of three grenades and were accused of planning to murder Wilders as well as a fellow MP, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The suspects were presumed to be members of what the Dutch intelligence agency, the General Intelligence and Security Service, has termed the Hofstadgroep. Since this incident Wilders has been under constant security protection because of frequent threats to his life. In September 2007, a Dutch woman was sentenced to a one-year prison term for sending more than 100 threatening emails to Wilders. In 2009, a rapper from Rotterdam was sentenced to 80 hours community service and a two-month suspended jail term for threatening Wilders in a rap song.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Wilders has campaigned to stop what he views as the "Islamisation of the Netherlands". He has compared the Quran to 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.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1997
    Age 33
    In 1997, Wilders was elected for the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) to the municipal council of Utrecht, the fourth largest city of the Netherlands.
    More Details Hide Details He lived in Kanaleneiland, a suburb with cheap social housing and high apartment blocks, which has a relatively high number of immigrants. While a city councilor, Wilders was mugged in his own neighbourhood; some have speculated that this may have catalysed his political transformation. He was not rewarded for his time on the municipal council of Utrecht, for in the following elections he would score well below the national average in the University city. A year later, he was elected to the Netherlands' national parliament, but his first four years in parliament drew little attention. However, his appointment in 2002 as a public spokesman for the VVD led Wilders to become more well known for his outspoken criticism of Islamic extremism. Tensions immediately developed within the party, as Wilders found himself to be to the right of most members, and challenged the party line in his public statements. He was expelled from the VVD parliamentary party, and in September 2004, Wilders left the VVD, having been a member since 1989, to form his own political party, Groep Wilders, later renamed the Party for Freedom. The crunch issue with the VVD party line was about his refusal to endorse the party's position that European Union accession negotiations must be started with Turkey.
  • 1996
    Age 32
    He was elected to the Utrecht city council in 1996, and later to the House of Representatives.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1990
    Age 26
    Wilders 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.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1963
    Born
    Born on September 6, 1963.
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