(photo credit: Associated Press)
Geert Wilders, who is demanding a halt to immigration from Muslim countries as the centerpiece of his campaign for the Dutch prime ministership, has hailed Israel for “fighting the jihad” and warned that “the West is next” if Israel is unsuccessful.
“Israel is the canary in the coal mine,” Wilders said in a recent telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post, ahead of Wednesday’s elections in the Netherlands. “The jihad against Israel isn’t against Israel only. It’s against the whole West.”
A year ago, Wilders’s PVV (Party for Freedom) was scoring 28 percent in opinion polls and appeared to have a realistic prospect of winning the elections. It has declined since then, however, he said, as economic issues have become increasingly dominant.
“There’s not a big chance that I’ll become prime minister,” he said.
Nonetheless, the PVV is expected to double its current nine seats in the 150-member parliament, and front-runner Mark Rutte, of the People’s Party for Freedom of Democracy (VVD), said this week that he was not ruling out Wilders’s party as a coalition partner.
Wilders, who is Catholic, has faced a barrage of criticism, legal action and death threats for expressing trenchant criticism of Islam, and lives amid constant security precautions. He told the Post that while he believes “there are moderate Muslims,” and that many Muslims living in the West are moderate, law-abiding people, “I don’t believe there is a moderate Islam.”
He described Islam as “a totalitarian ideology – against freedom, and the rule of law, and the separation of church and state.”
He said the influx of Muslims into countries such as Holland was causing “the Islamification of our societies.” In the wake of his 2008 film Fitna, he noted, he was “taken to a criminal court in the Netherlands for things I said about Islam” and had to wage a legal battle last year to enter Britain after first being barred.
“Freedom of speech is under attack,” he said. “It wouldn’t have happened if I had criticized Catholicism.” Wilders said Holland’s Muslim population had grown to about one million (out of the 16 million national populace), and that “tens of thousands are still arriving each year, from Somalia, Iraq, Morocco, Turkey” and beyond. In other European countries, the percentage of Muslims was much higher, he said. The influx “is bringing enormous changes,” he said, speaking about women and homosexuals being harassed in the streets in some Muslim neighborhoods and the rise of Shari’a courts.
“It is five minutes to midnight,” he said. “I say stop the mass immigration from Muslim countries – not because the people are bad, but because our cultural heritage and society, based on Christian and Judaic values, on humanity, is better than the Islamic... If we don’t deal with this and don’t stop immigration, because of [misguided] politically correct reasons, then we’ll lose Europe.”
Wilders, 46, established the PVV six years ago, having left the VVD
because of his opposition to its stance on Turkey’s accession to the EU.
An outspoken supporter of Israel, he spent two years as a volunteer at
Moshav Tomer in the Jordan Valley after high school, and has visited
numerous times. He has also been to Iran, Iraq and Syria/
He described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as ideological rather than
“If Israel gave, say, the West Bank to the Palestinians, this would not
bring peace,” Wilders said. “The next step would be for the Palestinians
to claim that Ashkelon, Ashdod, Haifa and Jerusalem are the next
‘settlements’ to be conquered.”
He added: “I always say that parents everywhere in the West sleep well
at night because parents in Israel lie awake at night – because their
children are fighting the jihad."
“You’re fighting our fight,” he said. “And after Israel, we are next.”
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