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Dutch Muslims Express Dismay as Geert Wilders’ Far-Right Party Secures Election Victory

Dutch Muslims expressed dismay on Thursday at the election victory of far-right populist Geert Wilders, known for advocating the banning of mosques and the Quran in the Netherlands.

Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV) surpassed expectations on Wednesday night by securing 37 seats out of 150 in the Dutch parliament, well ahead of a Labour/Green coalition and the outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservatives.

Geert Wilders

“These election results are shocking for Dutch Muslims. We did not expect such a party with a program that is against the basic principles of the rule of law to be so big,” said Muhsin Koktas of the Muslim organization CMO.

Muslims constitute around 5% of the Dutch population of almost 18 million people.

“It was a blow I have to process,” said Abdessamad Taheri, a 45-year-old community worker in the multi-ethnic Schilderswijk neighborhood in The Hague.

Mehdi Koc, a 41-year-old insulation installer, expressed shock at the swing to the PVV, while Taheri remarked that the vote conveyed different messages to Muslims, with the overwhelming emotion being one of disappointment.

“In part, the message is that many people are xenophobic and don’t want foreigners or Muslims. But another message is that people are very disappointed in 13 years of Rutte,” he said.

However, Taheri, a member of the Labour Party, found it challenging to separate these sentiments from all the “nasty things” Wilders had said about banning headscarves and closing mosques.

After his surprise win, Wilders stated his intention to be the prime minister for all Dutch people, but this did little to assuage concerns about his future actions.

“If you say yes to Wilders now, then you will have to say yes later when he closes down all the mosques because then you cannot go back,” Koc warned, emphasizing that Wilders might not lose sight of his eventual goals.

Some in the Netherlands believe that the Dutch system of coalition government will require Wilders to compromise on his most radical views, as political analysts also predict.

“He will not make the laws alone (other parties) will join and they have to cooperate,” said Kemal Yildiz, 54. “It will be fine,” Yildiz added.

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