Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV) in the Netherlands, was interviewed earlier today by Sophie Shevardnadze on Russia Today. Some excerpts are below:
Geert Wilders: Trump & Putin put interests of their nations first, European leaders to do the same
The rise of the political right is being felt across Europe and the Netherlands is no exception, where controversial politician Geert Wilders, a veteran of the game, took second place with his party in this year’s elections. Will his radical policies now make it into the Dutch and the European mainstream? Geert Wilders was our guest.
Sophie Shevardnadze: Geert Wilders, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you with us one more time. In the Dutch election in March, you were tipped to win, but that didn’t quite happen. Was that a clear sign to you that the Dutch people don’t really like the changes you’re proposing?
Geert Wilders: No, exactly the opposite. We were actually one of the winners, we got 30% of votes, we had 15 seats in the Dutch parliament before the elections, but after the elections we came up with 20 seats. The party of the current Prime Minister Rutte has in fact lost many seats. We became the second biggest party, so we were one of the biggest winners of the elections at the end of the day.
SS: You criticise the elites, the establishment, but you’ve been part of Dutch politics for 20 years, aren’t you the elite and the establishment?
GW: That’s a good question. You know, it’s not about how long you’ve been in politics but what you propose to do. I think the Dutch politicians and government should listen to the Dutch people. But they don’t. In Holland it’s not like ‘America First’ or ‘Russia First’ but ‘Holland Last’. When it comes to the European Union where we are the biggest net contributor, we pay our taxpayers’ money to the southern European countries, or when it comes to the mass immigration the Dutch electorate have made a very bad deal. What I propose is that we listen more to the people. And the people want the sovereign and strong Netherlands. Let’s work with other countries if they see fit and share our interests, not let’s not be as stupid as the today’s policies.
SS: After the elections in France and the Netherlands, right-leaning parties, like yours, had a strong showing. French president Macron and German chancellor Merkel even started talking about serious reform of the EU. Will you be content with the reform they are proposing?
GW: You know, when European politicians or people in favour of the European Union talk about the European reform, what they actually mean is not reform but more European Union. And indeed parties like mine want the elections. As I told you, we are the second biggest party in the Dutch parliament where we have thirteen or fourteen parties. And Marine Le Pen’s party, as you’ve rightfully mentioned, has become the second party in France. FPO (The Freedom Party of Austria) has become the second biggest party in Austria and is probably going to govern as well. In Germany we saw the Alternative for Germany party become the third biggest party. Our voice of millions of Europeans is getting stronger today and we don’t want more European reform, we want more national sovereignty. We want less European Union. And my party wants [the Netherlands] to leave the European Union. We believe that we can only be sovereign and in charge of our own front door when it comes to immigration if we are outside the European Union. We want to become a strong sovereign nation again.
SS: Your party is called ‘The Party for Freedom’ and you talk about freedom all the time, but at the same time, you’re suggesting closing mosques all over the Netherlands and making Islam unattractive. How does this go along with the freedom that you’re promoting?
GW: Well, that’s a very good question. Actually I believe that Islam and freedom are incompatible. Look at those countries where Islam is dominant today and you’ll see a total lack of freedom, civil society, rule of law and a lack of both individual and collective rights. I believe, the more we fight against the islamisation of societies the more we preserve our freedom. So I fight for freedom and I called my party ‘The Party for Freedom’ because I want my family, my children and my grandchildren even in 50 years [from now] to be free citizens. If we become more Islamic one day it will change our freedom for the worse.
SS: What about the freedom of practicing your religion? You talk about your children and grandchildren, but you never know, one of them may marry a Muslim one day or turn into Islam, you great grandchildren may be Muslim… What about their freedom of practicing their religion? It’s a choice, right?
GW: Well, our constitution, as you’ve fairly mentioned, talks about the freedom of religion. But I believe Islam is not a religion but more of an ideology, a totalitarian ideology that wants to dominate over not only people’s personal lives but the whole society. One of the examples I usually give to show that Islam is more an ideology and not a religion is that when you want to leave Islam the penalty is death. You are not free, as it is in Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism, to leave. This is a token of a totalitarian ideology. Yes, we have the freedom of religion in the Dutch constitution. But if we see Islam not so much as a religion but as a totalitarian ideology that, once again, doesn’t want to assimilate in our society but to dominate it, it goes against the freedom of women, homosexuals, Christians and Jews, press. So if you want to have society that is free you have to have less Islam.
SS: I’m not advocate of Islam, I’m Christian myself, but I think what you’re talking about is a very narrow following in Islam that may be called Wahhabism or extreme Islam. But I don’t think that applies to the majority of Muslim people. And the same thing can be said about Christianity — if you go really deep into the Bible it goes against gays and women rights… It’s really about how you read religion. Anyway, you’ve been saying that there’s no such thing as moderate Islam. But at a conference in Italy in September you said that “many individual Muslims are moderates”. Who are these moderate Muslims if there’s no moderate Islam according to you?
GW: Listen, I make a distinction, as I always did, between the ideology and the people. And, indeed, there’s no moderate Islam, there’s no European Islam or this kind of nonsense. There’s only Islam of the Quran, of the life of [the Prophet] Mohammed and that is the only Islam we know. Unfortunately, it cannot and it will never be changed. Extreme Islam is a pleonasm, it means exactly the same. On the other hand, you have the people. And I do believe in moderate people. And indeed I do acknowledge that there are many Muslims around the world who are moderate. But unfortunately, and this is one of the differences of Islam from Christianity or Judaism, today we see societies where Muslims are in large numbers or even the majority and there is a total lack of freedom and democracy whether you talk about more liberal countries like Egypt or tougher ones like Iran, the Sunni Muslim country… Even in my own country, the Netherlands, we have almost one million Muslims today. The leftist liberal institutions like the University of Amsterdam have made a survey and it proved that 11% of the Dutch Muslims — more than a hundred thousand people which is twice the amount of the Dutch army — stated that they are willing to use violence in Holland for their beliefs, for Islam. We don’t see that in any other religion. This is what we are importing in the West today. We don’t see terrorist acts being committed on a monthly and sometimes on a weekly basis all over Europe in the name of Christianity or Judaism. Indeed, not every Muslim is a terrorist but unfortunately most of the terrorists in Europe today are Muslims. We can be politically correct and ignore it. But I think, it’s a lot wiser to address this issue.
SS: The Islamist terror threat to Europe is of course very real. But don’t you think that measures like this (closure of mosques and a tough crackdown on Muslims) could work the other way round — increase the risk of terror attacks rather than reduce it?
Read the rest, and watch the video, at Russia Today.