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Muslims in shock over anti-Islam party’s Dutch poll win

pvv party leader geert wilders meets with members of his party at the dutch parliament
Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV party, Geert Wilders gestures as he meets with members of his party at the Dutch Parliament, after the Dutch parliamentary elections, in The Hague

Dutch Muslims expressed shock on Thursday at the election win of far-right populist Geert Wilders, who has previously called for mosques and the Koran to be banned in the Netherlands.

Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV) beat all predictions on Wednesday night by winning 37 seats out of 150 in the Dutch parliament, well ahead of a Labour/Green combination and the outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservatives.

“These election results are shocking for Dutch Muslims. We did not expect such a party with a programme that is against the basic principles of the rule of law to be so big,” said Muhsin Koktas of Muslim organization CMO.

Muslims make up around 5% of he Dutch population of almost 18 million people.

“It was a blow I have to process,” Abessamad Taheri, a 45-year old community worker in the multi-ethnic Schilderswijk neighbourhood in The Hague told Reuters.

Mehdi Koc, a 41-year-old insulation installer, said he was shocked by the swing to the PVV, while Taheri said the vote sent different messages to Muslims, although the overwhelming emotion was of disappointment.

“In part the message is that many people are xenophobic and don’t want foreigners or Muslims. But another message is that people are very disappointed in 13 years of Rutte,” he said.

However, Taheri, a member of the Labour party, said he could not really separate that from all the “nasty things” Wilders had said about banning head scarves and closing mosques.

After his surprise win, Wilders said he wanted to be prime minister for all Dutch people, but that appeared to do little to assuage concerns about what he might do later.

“If you say yes to Wilders now, than you will have to say yes later when he closes down all the mosques, because then you cannot go back,” Koc said, warning that Wilders will not lose sight of his eventual goals.

Some in the Netherlands think that the Dutch system of coalition government means Wilders will have to compromise on his most radical views, as political analysts also predict.

“He will not make the laws alone (other parties) will join and they have to cooperate,” Kemal Yildiz, 54, said.

“It will be fine,” Yildiz added.

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