The Hague - An unrepentant Geert Wilders fought back Saturday against a storm of protest and an exodus from within his own anti-Muslim party after he vowed "fewer Moroccans" in the Netherlands.
The Hague – An unrepentant Geert Wilders fought back Saturday against a storm of protest and an exodus from within his own anti-Muslim party after he vowed “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands.
The platinum-haired populist was forced to deny parallels with Nazi leaders after he was widely perceived as having gone too far in his attack on a specific ethnic group on Wednesday.
“I spoke the truth, I’m not sorry and will not apologize for the truth and expressing my political ideals,” Wilders told an impromptu press conference on Saturday evening.
Dutch media have spoken of an “exodus” after the head of his Party for Freedom (PVV) bloc in the European parliament, two Dutch MPs and several councilors quit the party.
The unprecedented storm of protest was sparked when a jovial Wilders on Wednesday promised his chanting supporters he would arrange for there to be fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands. But an agitated Wilders tried to backpedal on Saturday, saying “I never said all Moroccans should leave the country”, only “the criminals and those who want to leave”.
“Media and websites and politicians have made comparisons with abject figures from the past,” Wilders said, amid widespread comparisons of his words with those of Nazi leaders, including Hitler.
“I don’t know where this is going to end but I hope it ends well for the PVV,” Wilders said, admitting that he did not know if more members would leave his party.
Dutch Moroccans took to Twitter this week in response to Wilders, posting often-humorous selfie photographs with their Dutch passports along with the hashtag #bornhere.
Dutch Jewish groups have also distanced themselves from the pro-Israel Wilders’ statements.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has relied on Wilders in the past to stay in power, has also criticized Wilders, saying his comments “left a bad taste in the mouth”.