One late-winter evening three years ago, Lt. Col. Mostafa Hilali switched off the light at his office in the Dutch defense department, drove home to his townhouse near the banks of the North Sea, and flipped on the TV. On the news was footage of a political rally where the leader of Holland’s far-right Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, stepped up to the microphone and asked his supporters: “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in this country?” The mostly white, Christian crowd chanted with fervor: “Fewer, fewer, fewer!” “Well I’ll arrange for that then,” Wilders retorted with a smirk. The crowd cheered. Hilali’s heart sank. “That’s when it hit home for me,” Hilali, a Dutchman of Moroccan descent who immigrated to the Netherlands with his parents when he was a toddler, said at his home in The Hague. “I mean, a politician, somebody in our House of Representatives, is actually on television saying out loud there need to be less people of your kind. It’s pretty brutal to say, and pretty brutal to hear.” Hilali and his native Dutch wife were among more than 5,000 plaintiffs who brought a class-action lawsuit against Wilders for discrimination, for his comments at that March 2014 rally. Last December, they won. A Dutch court found Wilders guilty of inciting discrimination and insulting an ethnic group, but issued no punishment.
Wilders has since surged to the top of the polls ahead of the nation’s parliamentary elections March 15. He appears unlikely to become prime minister because most rival parties have ruled out joining a government coalition with him as its head, but he could become a kingmaker. The 53-year-old politician, whose mother’s family is originally from Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country and a former Dutch colony, promises to restore Holland to its white, Christian roots.
He wants to ban the Koran, which he has likened to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” shut all mosques, and pull the Netherlands out of the European Union. He’s an isolationist. He wants to halt all foreign aid.
He’s been a fixture in the Dutch parliament, with his signature platinum blond streaked hair and far-right views, since first elected to the body in 1998. But Wilders’ message has resonated in recent years with a growing number of voters in a country where a perceived loss of national identity due to immigration is a much greater concern than unemployment.
Full Article: The far right party is leading election polls in the Netherlands: Will Geert Wilders be prime minister? – LA Times.