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Time to take Geert Wilders seriously

The Controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders is feeling pretty confident after his freedom party gained ground in local elections, seeting the stage for parliamentary elecitons in June:  "Today Almere and The Hague, tomorrow the whole of the Netherlands. This is our springboard for success in parliamentary elections," Wilders said as the returns came in. "We’re ...

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Dutch far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders (C) answers to journalists questions at his court hearing in Amsterdam on February 3, 2010, on charges of inciting racial hatred against Muslims. The 46-year-old lawmaker, creator of the controversial anti-Islam film Fitna, stands accused of five counts of religious insult and anti-Muslim incitement for describing Islam as a fascist religion and calling for the banning of the Koran, which he has likened to Hitler's Mein Kampf. Prosecutors had initially declined to charge Wilders, citing freedom of speech when it dismissed dozens of complaints over the film and a variety of public utterances. AFP PHOTO / ANP / MARCEL ANTONISSE ***netherlands out - belgium out*** (Photo credit should read MARCEL ANTONISSE/AFP/Getty Images)

The Controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders is feeling pretty confident after his freedom party gained ground in local elections, seeting the stage for parliamentary elecitons in June: 

"Today Almere and The Hague, tomorrow the whole of the Netherlands. This is our springboard for success in parliamentary elections," Wilders said as the returns came in.

"We're going to take the Netherlands back from the leftist elite that coddles criminals and supports Islamization," said Wilders, who campaigned in Almere for banning Muslim women from wearing headscarves in public.

The Controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders is feeling pretty confident after his freedom party gained ground in local elections, seeting the stage for parliamentary elecitons in June: 

"Today Almere and The Hague, tomorrow the whole of the Netherlands. This is our springboard for success in parliamentary elections," Wilders said as the returns came in.

"We’re going to take the Netherlands back from the leftist elite that coddles criminals and supports Islamization," said Wilders, who campaigned in Almere for banning Muslim women from wearing headscarves in public.

On Friday Wilder will travel to Britain — from which he was banned last year — to show his anti-Islam film Fitna in parliament at the invitation of the U.K. independence party. He also showed his film at the Capitol last year at the invitation of Sen. Jon Kyl.

The efforts to shut Wilders up — prosecuting him for hate speech, banning him from traveling, not to mention the numerous death threats he’s received — have clearly not worked. Wilders has only used them to his advantage portraying himself as a free-speech martyr. As odious as opponents may find his views, Wilders clearly has a growing constituency and  mainstream Dutch politicians are going to have to find a way to defeat his arguments in the cout of public opinion, rather than criminal courts. He’s not just a sideshow anymore.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Europe

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