Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV) in the Netherlands, was interviewed today by Metro, which has the largest circulation of all Dutch newspapers. Below is the English translation. To read the original interview in Dutch, click here.
Wilders: Fewer Syrians Is Simply OK?
Wilders: Put the Dutch Flag Back in the Parliament
By Ebru Umar
The PVV is rising in the polls again. According to Maurice De Hond, Wilders’ party would win 39 seats if elections were to be held today. According to the same poll, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD (center-right) would get 20 seats, and Vice Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher’s PvdA (social democrats) only 10. There is no better time than this for a visit to the high-security floor where the PVV resides in the Parliament building.
The PVV is peaking too early. Nearly eighteen months before the scheduled elections.
Wilders: In politics, everything is possible. Since World War II, we have had sixteen early elections. I do not know whether the government will remain in office until 2017 or whether it is going to fall. In a year we might get 100 seats, or ten.
Which ministerial posts do you absolutely want in a Wilders cabinet?
Apart from General Affairs — the Prime Minister’s office — I want to focus on our topics of Immigration, Justice, Foreign Affairs and Health. How one deals with the elderly is an indication of civilization, so I think that is an important ministerial post. I would also like to have a ministry in which a minister is dealing with the issues of immigration and integration. I find it very odd that today immigration is a competence of the ministry of Security and Justice, while integration belongs to the ministry of Social Affairs. I would prefer to see them combined in one ministry.
But will the PVV be able to find people qualified enough for a ministerial post?
I think so. Before we decided to support the first Rutte cabinet, we already asked ourselves if we would be able to govern, but because of fundamental differences on Islam the option was made for a minority government which we supported. Of course, I have a list of people who could become ministers on behalf of the PVV, but I will not make their names public because they do not want this. These people face unpleasant consequences if the news gets out that they support the PVV.
That is rather hypocritical, isn’t it?
I would prefer that they express themselves, but that is rare. It has consequences for them. The true ‘heroes of the PVV’ are not so much our parliamentarians or our members of the European Parliament, but rather those people who are our part-time representatives in the provincial and municipal councils. They are part-time politicians with regular jobs, which they sometimes lose because they represent the PVV in local politics, and they cannot find another job anymore. They are the heroes of the PVV.
Heroes? Surely they are not always the brightest of people?
For me they are the brightest. It is not easy if you are a teacher and you become a PVV member on the municipal council. It is often unimaginable what happens as a consequence. And these people do not have to do this, certainly not for the money. But they are passionate people and I respect them enormously.
What will be the milestones of a Wilders cabinet?
We do not have a two-party system, so we will have to deal with other parties. But a Wilders cabinet will reclaim Dutch national sovereignty. We want to be masters again of our own currency, our own laws and our own borders. And yes, this means that we will have to exit the European Union. Last year we had this scenario researched. Provided that one keeps access to the single European market, an EU exit will cost money in the first year, but will be beneficial from the second year on. The British research bureau Capital Economics researched this and, according to its NExit report, this scenario is realistic. Other countries are dependent on transit through the Netherlands and, if they do not allow us access to the internal market, it will also be negative for them. It would be great if, like Switzerland, we would again be able to make our own decisions. I want the Netherlands to be a proud and sovereign country again, and I believe that, in order to have a true democracy, one needs a nation state with a common culture, identity and flag. People need to know who they are; Europe costs us a lot of money, while we hardly have anything to say.
The Netherlands are already a state.
True, but the goal of European elite is to trade this nation state in for a supranational state. This not only leads to the loss of our economy, but also our identity. If people do not know what they are, they do not know what they are not either. I do not want that. If you do not know what you are not, you will not know either whether what you import is wrong or not. Sovereignty is not just an economic concept, but it also means that people know who they are, what they stand for, what their identity is, and especially what their identity is not.
Do you know that we are just about the only parliament in the world without the national flag in the plenary hall? Seems like a small thing, but the flag is the symbol of your country. I love the fact that Americans have flags in their classrooms. And that the French President speaks to the nation on July 14th with the flag in the background. Chauvinism is a word the French are proud of, but we have been taught that it has a bad connotation. And politicians who emphasize it, are being depicted as nationalists or racists.
Does the European terror threat affect you more than others?
For me the terror threat is not new, but I think that finally the realization is hitting home that every citizen — from Paris to Amsterdam — can be a victim. While the Western powers decently focus on military targets, the Islamic terrorists primarily focus on innocent people and civilian targets. In that sense, too, no comparison is possible. What strikes me most is the enormous naivety of our politicians. It is politically correct to look away and to depict those who warn against this danger as semi-extremists. But much harm would have been avoided if one had listened to people who warned: the threat is far more serious than you think.
Doesn’t that demotivate you?
After every new attack — Paris, but also Fortuyn, Van Gogh, Madrid, 9/11 — there is a lot of beautiful rhetoric from every party in parliament. Everyone is ‘shocked’, but nothing changes. After every attack, I would be able to deliver exactly the same speech that I gave before. During last week’s leadership debate in parliament, I considered using exactly the same text that I had used after the Charlie Hebdo debate. But in the end I did not think it would be appropriate.
Doesn’t the lack of support frustrate you?
Outside parliament, I get ever more support from common people. That is also why I spoke of a fake parliament. Not to annoy the House, but because we represent far more people in the country than those 10 percent. Ordinary people know very well that they are not being told the truth, that Islam is indeed a serious problem, and that it is not just a small group of rascals or ‘kids’, as Pechtold (centrist social-liberals) said. These understatements are enervating. But my concern is freedom and security in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the West.
Speaking of freedom, when did you last drive a car?
I have done so a few times in the past decade when I was abroad. And then there are always two cars driving in front of me and behind me. The feeling of freedom is very limited. Freedom is when you can get in your own car, without people getting in their car in front of you and behind you.
Do you miss that feeling?
I miss the small things, like emptying my own mail box. That is a rarity; I have it from my deceased father. He always insisted on doing it himself. We children were not allowed to touch the post. And now I have my own mailbox and I am not allowed to empty it myself either. When I am abroad, I always go to a supermarket. I like that. Going to the beach with my wife without all the hassle … Those small things, you miss these. At some point, you stop thinking about the bigger things. I tell myself that one day I will be able to do these things again. I keep hoping against all odds, although I realize that it will not happen soon. But I do not think about it much, which is also a way to survive.
Well, you certainly know how to make friends. Promising fewer, fewer, fewer does not really help.
In Venlo (the border town where I grew up), we used to say that we wanted fewer Germans. If you are not even allowed to say fewer. You are allowed to say fewer Syrians or Mexicans, but not fewer Moroccans? In Texas, a politician told me that during every session of their parliament at least ten politicians call for ‘fewer Mexicans’. Moreover, I have a lot of support from people of immigrant origin. I notice this whenever I visit a market. They all say that it is in their interest, too, that we close the borders. I shake the hands of Moroccans. They approach me to show their support and say that it cannot go on like this. They realize that it is also bad for their integration if ten thousands more are entering the country. There are always cameras present, dozens, but it never gets broadcasted.
You are being framed by the media?
Absolutely. Eighteen months ago, we held a resistance demonstration on Koekamp near the Central Station in The Hague. Alexander Pechtold said in parliament that a number of people there had raised their right arm. That could be, but in the front ranks of the crowd were immigrants and young families with children, the atmosphere was just incredibly good. But you do not see that in the media. The same thing happened when I spoke at a Pegida rally in Dresden: pictures of hooligans and racists, but not of smiling children and parents. You are always being framed. It is time that we get a channel like FOX in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile people think: how are we going to realize these fewer?
By stopping immigration from Islamic countries, promoting voluntary repatriation and, finally, denaturalizing criminals with dual citizenship. I do not understand why I should not be allowed to say this. If I had said fewer Syrians there would not have been any fuss, but saying fewer Moroccans is not allowed. I do not get it. At the same time, I wonder where my Prime Minister or the public television are when someone tells me: ‘you are a tumor and must be fought, you are on your way to becoming the next Hitler.’ Where are those preprinted complaint forms then?
But Kuzu and Oztürk [two Turkish members of the Dutch Parliament who called Geert Wilders a tumor] are not being taken seriously.
It is not flattering to have to stand in court, while others, with far worse statements, can freely walk to the pub. It is extremely duplicitous that when they say something about me there is no consternation at all. Imagine that I would say that Aboutaleb or Marcouch [Dutch Moroccan politicians] are tumors and that I am the medicine. I would never say that, but if I did, it would be the first item of the news on public television, Pechtold would ask for an emergency debate in parliament, Rutte would address the people, and there would be preprinted complaint forms everywhere.
Islam does not belong in the Netherlands. Does this mean that Islam has to leave the Netherlands?
Yes. I am not saying we have to get rid of the people who adhere to Islam. I make a clear distinction between the malignant ideology and citizens of this country. But the goal of Islam is to dominate and to implement Sharia.
Less than ten percent of the Muslims in the Netherlands have read the Koran and know that sort of things. Let alone that they want Sharia. You make them aware of it.
I would not say that. If you look at surveys, you will see that for large majorities of Muslims the divine laws and religious rules are much more important than secular laws. The percentages are well over 50 percent, not just in Arab countries, and even before I spoke about it. It would be too much honor to see a correlation between my statements and their awareness. Perhaps that applies to some, but 11 percent of Muslims in the Netherlands are prepared to use violence based on their religion. How is it possible that there are so few Muslims protesting against this?
Because they might have better things to do? I do not speak out against terrorism, it is logical that I oppose it. And 10 percent favor violence, you say, so 90 percent do not.
It would be logical if somewhere in the world tens of thousands of people would rise and say ‘This is not my Islam!’ We have one million Muslims in the Netherlands, and I am convinced that the silent majority, by not being vocal, allow the minority to do what they do. We have seen it with Communism and Fascism and in Nazi Germany. Perhaps the silent majority is even more dangerous than the violent minority.
How many asylum seekers can we still accept?
What should we do with the asylum seekers who are here already?
Most of them have no residence permit, in my opinion they should leave.
But they do not leave, they beg in the streets. What should we do about that?
If it had been up to the PVV, they would never have entered our country. Do not ask me how to solve the mess that others have made.
What will a Wilders cabinet do with people whose asylum application is already in procedure?
Put them out of the country, all of them. I cannot do anything against people who have already received a residence permit. But those without one can all be expelled.
#resist is a word, but incites to violence. Don’t you feel…
No, I knew you were going to ask me this, but I do not feel guilty at all. When I ask people to resist I always emphasize to do this ‘democratically and non-violently.’ That is why I personally went to the first public hearing. I tell people that democratic resistance can help in some municipalities. Firm resistance is fine, but never with violence or threats, always within the limits of the law. If you threaten a mosque or set it on fire, as far as I am concerned, they can lock you up in jail for a hundred years. You have to keep your hands off of everyone. But you should oppose in a democratic way, especially the political elite who allowed it all. I condemn violent actions, no matter who commits them, and, yes, this even includes unexpected PVV supporters.
Not everyone in the Netherlands is highly educated, some do not understand it when you state it like that.
People watching debates can hear me say, without being solicited to do so, ‘resist, in a democratic and non-violent manner.’ I do say that. Always. There is hardly anyone in the Netherlands who realizes better than I do what violence and threats do to a person. It is in my genes and fibers that violence is something that you should never use.
Why does your wife want to be married to you? What makes you a lovely husband?
That is a very good question. I love her very much and I also think I am a gentle person. I am not such a boogeyman as people sometimes think. But you are right: imagine being married to Geert Wilders. There are a lot of unpleasant consequences. It is hard for my wife, to be honest. She had to give up much of her freedom and privacy and earns of lot of respect for it. I love being with her, like to spend time with her, enjoy doing things together — not under ideal conditions and not easy. We have been married for a long time and are still having a great time together. It is strange to say this about myself, but apparently I do not just do crazy things.