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Wilders calls for ban on Turkish officials

March 5, 2017

Far-right leader Geert Wilders has slammed a planned event in the Netherlands in support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Wilders is hoping to come out on top in the country's next general election.

Niederlande Amsterdam - Geert Wilders
Image: Reuters/C. Toala Olivares

With just 10 days until the Netherlands elects its next government, Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders delivered a statement to reporters in which he slammed plans by Turkish officials to campaign in the country.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and other officials have already criticized plans to hold a rally in support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the port city of Rotterdam.

"They should not come here and interfere with our domestic problems," Wilders told reporters, referring to the Turkish officials planning to attend the rally.

Wilders went on to call for banning the politicians from entering the country, saying in English that "if I would be prime minister today, I would declare - until at least the half of April when they have the referendum - I would call the whole cabinet of Turkey persona non grata for a month or two, not allowing them to come here."

Wilders, who officially launched his campaign in February, also said the Dutch government was weak for not banning the rally and referred to Erdogan as an "Islamo-fascist leader."

Niederlande Wahlkampf Geert Wilders
Wilders officially launched his parliamentary election campaign back in FebruaryImage: Getty Images/AFP/E. Dunand

Vying for votes

Wilders' far-right PVV led opinion polls for several months, with around 20 percent support - enough to lead a coalition if only other parties hadn't ruled out a deal with Wilders' party. But the PVV has lost ground in recent weeks. 

In the most recent poll released on Wednesday, the PVV now trails Rutte's conservative-liberal VVD, 16.3 percent to 15.7 percent.

Wilders, who launched his campaign last month by denouncing what he called "Moroccan scum who make the streets unsafe," has previously been fined for inciting racial hatred.

Wilders mired in controversy

The controversial MP suspended campaigning for a few days last week after one his security officials was arrested on suspicion of passing classified information about Wilders to a Dutch-Moroccan crime gang.

The firebrand lawmaker, who has courted controversy with his hardline anti-Islam, anti-immigrant stance and incendiary insults against Moroccans and Turks, has long been under 24-hour police protection.

He promised to return to campaining this weekend on an anti-immigration and anti-EU platform.

The 53-year-old has vowed that if elected he will pull the Netherlands out of the EU, ban the sale of Korans, close mosques and Islamic schools, shut Dutch borders and ban Muslim migrants.

mm,blc/sms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)