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Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam and staunchly pro-Israel politician who demanded a halt to immigration from Muslim countries as the centerpiece of his campaign for the Dutch prime ministership, emerged Thursday as a major winner in the elections.
His PVV (Party for Freedom) took third place in Wednesday’s vote, with 24 seats in the 150-member parliament, giving him a potential "kingmaker" role in the construction of a Dutch coalition. Other parties may try "to shove us aside, but we must be taken seriously," Wilders said after the results were in.
In a recent telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post, Wilders set out his views on Islam, his concern for the future well-being of Europe, and the reasons for his profound support of Israel. He also talked about the role he’d like to play in the new Dutch government. Excerpts:
‘The Jerusalem Post’: What does the rise in support for your party say about Holland?
Geert Wilders: "People are waking up. They see that we are losing our identity, that neighborhoods are unsafe, that women are shouted at and hassled in the streets, that schools are unsafe. If my party were extremist, we’d be at the margins and we’d be getting 1.5 or 2 percent of the vote.
We’re not. In Holland, fortunately, we don’t have many racists. The Dutch are a very tolerant people. We have no problem to be tolerant of the tolerant, but we should be intolerant of the intolerant.
"The struggle is not lost. If it were lost, I would not be fighting the fight, with all the costs I have paid. [Wilders has received numerous death threats, was initially barred from visiting the UK, and is surrounded by security.] It’s not too late, but we can’t afford to wait any longer. The gap between the ruling elites [in Europe] and the vox populi is very wide. If you look at the UK, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, the change is not for the better.
Still, we are gaining some ground. The Danish People’s Party, which supports the government [from outside the coalition, having come third in 2007’s elections], made sure that Denmark has some of the toughest laws on immigration and emigration, without going too far. That can happen in Holland, too. My first choice would be to be in government.
My second preference is to give support [from the outside] for a minority government, like in Denmark.
Change has to be made.
Denmark proves it is possible, and it is possible in Holland and other European countries, too."
Do you believe there is such a thing as moderate Islam?
"I believe there are moderate Muslims. Most of those living in Western society are moderate, seeking a good life, and [are concerned for their] family.
Law-abiding persons. But I don’t believe there is a moderate Islam. It’s a totalitarian ideology – against freedom, and the rule of law, and the separation of church and state – [against] free Western society.
"I fear the Islamification of our societies, and there’s evidence of it happening.
"In the UK, people don’t know, but there are 60 active Sharia courts. I was taken to a criminal court in the Netherlands for things I said about Islam [in the 2008 film Fitna].
Freedom of speech is under attack. It wouldn’t have happened if I had criticized Catholicism. Cartoonists, politicians, journalists are getting into legal trouble. Our society is changing. It’s not a change for the better."
Is there no room for coexistence?
"I advocate integration [with Muslims already in Europe who genuinely wish to integrate].
But it can’t be in the framework of Islam and the Koran.
Islam doesn’t want to integrate.
It wants to dominate. So I say stop the mass immigration from Muslim countries – not because the people are bad but because our cultural heritage and society, based on Christian and Judaic values, on humanity, is better than the Islamic [framework]. If you abide by our laws, rules, values, constitution, you integrate. But if you cross red lines and don’t act according to our rule of law, we need to be stricter.
There are too many carrots and not enough sticks, [such as] extradition."
How grave do you consider the situation to be in Holland at present?
"In some European countries, the Muslim population has grown from 5, to 10, to 15, to 20%. In the Netherlands today, it is one million out of 16 million.
In Amsterdam and other of our cities, homosexuals, women and apostates – they are not harassed by Jews, or Buddhists. This growth [in the immigrant Muslim populace] has to stop. Tens of thousands are still arriving each year, from Somalia, Iraq, Morocco, Turkey..."
So Europe is losing the battle?
"It is five minutes to midnight.
The biggest [disease] is cultural relativism. We don’t know who we are anymore. So it’s hard to know who we are not. Liberals promote this concept that all cultures are equal.
And you’re a nudnik if you say your culture is better than the Islamic culture. This should stop. We should know which values we share and which we do not. If we don’t deal with this and don’t stop immigration, because of [misguided] politically correct reasons, then we’ll lose Europe [to Islam]."
Where does Israel fit in your mindset?
"Israel is the canary in the coal mine. The jihad against Israel isn’t against Israel only.
It’s against the whole West. It’s not a territorial conflict but an ideological one. If Israel gave, say, the West Bank to the Palestinians, this will not bring peace. The next step would be for the Palestinians to claim that Ashkelon, Ashdod, Haifa and Jerusalem are the next ‘settlements’ to be conquered.
"I always say that parents elsewhere in the West sleep well at night because parents in Israel lie awake at night – because their children are fighting the jihad. You’re fighting our fight. People need to take this into account. Territorial compromise won’t solve the conflict. And after Israel, we are next."
Is Israel going to win?
"Israel is a democracy. The only democracy in the Middle East, with an independent judiciary, parliament, one man one vote, civil society, and independent press. Israel should make its own decisions.
Its decisions should be respected."
Where did you live in Israel?
"Moshav Tomer, 10 kilometers north of Jericho in the Jordan Valley [as a volunteer for two years after high school]."
Have you traveled elsewhere in our region?
"I’ve been to Iran three or four times, the last time about six years ago. And Iraq and Syria. What these countries have in common is that they are dictatorships, non-democracies.
In Iran, I was present when a local journal’s office was sealed and closed because they had criticized the regime.
I spoke myself to students, military cadets, and spoke a bit about Israel, and was hassled."
How concerned are you by Iran’s nuclear drive?
"The danger is in the intention and the capacities. Iran has both. It has fooled the world. It is a very dangerous regime based on an Islamic ideology. A non-free Islamic society. The worst. It is underestimated.
It poses a danger not only for Israel, but for the whole geopolitical situation – one of the worst threats we are facing today."