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Wikileaks: Saudis Tried to Bring Legal Action against Geert Wilders

The  Dutch newspaper NRC-Handelsblad revealed in an article today the Saudi Foreign Ministry keeps a watching brief on the activities of Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) in The Hague Parliament. WikiLeaks revealed that in 2010, the Saudi Crown Prince, in conjunction with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,  considered bringing legal action for his anti-Islamic stands, especially attacks on the Prophet Mohammed. You may recall Wilders’  Arabic sticker campaign launched in December 2013 emblazoned with the words, “Mohammed was a Crook” that infuriated Saudi Arabia. That led to a delayed call by Saudi Arabia in May 2014  for a trade boycott against The Netherlands because of the Wilders’ Mohammed sticker campaign. In our May 18, 2014 Iconoclast post on the provocative episode that gave rise to Saudi sanctions we wrote:

The delayed Saudi reaction to the PVV anti-Islam sticker campaign launched five months ago is all about imposing a Blasphemy code. The Wahhabist Saudi government is trying to silence criticism of  Islam threatening the free speech of  Wilders and the liberty of those Dutch voters who are inclined towards his message.  A message the PVV propounds that Muslim mass immigration in Holland  harbors  the seeds of homegrown terrorism on a significant scale.

Coincident with this latest WikiLeaks revelation concerning Wilders, the Garland, Texas Mohammed cartoons were shown on Dutch TV last night. That has gone viral with over 91,000 views and counting.  Watch the YouTube video of the cartoons:

The viewing on Dutch TV of the 10 Mohammed cartoons from the Garland, Texas contest provoked the Sunni Al Alzhar Islamic authorities today to condemn it.  AFP reported:

The leading Sunni Muslim seat of learning, Al-Azhar, on Thursday denounced the “sick imagination” behind cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that were aired on Dutch national television.

A statement by the Cairo-based Al-Azhar also urged Muslims to “ignore this odious terrorist act”, a day after some 10 cartoons were screened by anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders during a television slot for political parties.

Before Thursday’s statement and the cartoon broadcast, Al-Azhar had said that the objective of Wilders was to “provoke the anger of Muslims” around the world.

But it had also warned that this would only benefit “terrorism which takes advantage of such incidents to spread violence and destabilize peace and security in the world”

The Freedom Party (PVV) blog had this post explaining the background and questions posed to the Dutch Foreign Minister about the Saudis closely monitoring.”The stature of the prophet of mercy and humanitarianism is greater and more noble than to be harmed by cartoons that have no respect for morals or civilized standards,” it said.

This week, Wikileaks published a number of documents from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The documents reveal that the Saudi embassy in The Hague keeps a close eye on the Dutch MP Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV).

A document from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) also reveals that, in 2010, the Saudi authorities were planning to bring Geert Wilders to court. Permission to do so had already been obtained from the then Saudi Crown Prince.

Today, PVV parliamentarians Geert Wilders and Raymond de Roon asked Bert Koenders, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, for more information.

Below are the parliamentary questions of the PVV and the translation of an article, published today (June 25, 2015) in the Dutch newspaper NRC-Handelsblad.

Questions by Mr Wilders and Mr De Roon (both PVV) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

(1) Have you seen of the article, “Saudis Kept a Close Eye on Wilders” in NRC-Handelsblad of 25 June?

(2) Were the Dutch authorities informed that the Saudis in 2010 (or at any other time) wanted to bring PVV leader Geert Wilders to court?

(3) Is it true that the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) was aware of this fact or possibly even involved in these plans?

(4) Is it true that the then Saudi Crown Prince gave permission to initiate such a court case?

(5) Is it true that Ron Strikker, the then Dutch ambassador in Riyadh, told the Saudis in April 2012 that the statements of Mr. Wilders did not represent the views of the Dutch government? What were these specific statements?

(6) Do you share our view that it is a disgrace that a dictatorship like Saudi Arabia, a country that has condemned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to be whipped with 1,000 lashed, attempts to intimidate Dutch citizens and parliamentarians who use their right to free speech ?

(7) Do you share our view that we have to break off diplomatic relations with the Saudi dictatorship? 

Last night, the controversial Muhammad cartoons of the PVV were finally shown on television. The cartoons, which early May led to commotion at a meeting in Garland (Texas) where Geert Wilders was one of the speakers, attracted a relatively large number of viewers for the broadcast of a political party. But they have not led to disturbances in the Netherlands.

Nevertheless, Dutch diplomats in the Saudi capital Riyadh can again brace themselves for difficult conversations. When, last year, Wilders distributed stickers with the Saudi flag and the text “Muhammad is a crook”, this led to a de facto trade boycott by Saudi Arabia.

Wilders regularly figures in reports of the Saudi embassy in The Hague. Sometimes, the Saudi Ministry explicitly requests  reports about his actions: for example, in 2012, when the Saudis had heard that he was about launch an anti-Islamic book in the US. A report – obviously the answer to this request – describes Wilders’ opinions and actions. It also mentions that he is controversial in the Netherlands for his links with Israel and his “extremist” views.
According to a document of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), in 2010, the Saudis wanted to bring Wilders to court. The document reports that, at an earlier stage, approval had been obtained from the then Saudi Crown Prince to press charges against Wilders for showing his movie Fitna in the British House of Lords. The document refers to a document from the Saudi intelligence chief, who is said to have informed “friendly Dutch intelligence services” about the Saudi view and the possible negative consequences of Wilders’ “unlawful aggression”. It is not clear what happened next.

The Dutch embassy in Riyadh always tries to limit the damage. When Dutch Ambassador Ron Strikker met a high ranking Saudi official in April 2012, he reiterated the government’s position that Wilders’ statements do not represent the government views, but that the Dutch Constitution guarantees both freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

His interlocutor rejected Strikker’s “freedom of speech” argument, because, according to him, Wilders’ statements lead to hatred and lack of understanding, and complicate the relations between religions and peoples. His country, however, is making huge efforts to promote religious dialogue and understanding. He gives the Dutch government the advice speak out in public against Wilders’ statements, “also towards Dutch Muslims who are the victims of this kind of actions.”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Geert Wilders with “Mohammed is a Crook” sticker taken in December 2013. Source: ANP.

Saudi Arabia Threatens Sanctions against the Netherlands over Anti-Islam Stickers

Wilder-met-sticker-470x340

Geert Wilders

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia announced possible  sanctions against The Netherlands allegedly because of Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam sticker that he launched in December 2013. The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the stickers blasphemed the Saudi flag and Islam.  AFP/Reuters reported:

A royal decree, made public by the Mecca chamber of commerce, bans “Dutch firms from taking part in future projects in the kingdom, whether directly or through sub-contracting”.

It also reduces to a minimum the number of visas “for Dutch companies and investors who are not part of vital projects in the kingdom.”

And it orders an end to visits by trade delegations between the two countries.

Bilateral trade was about US$5 billion in 2010 and the Netherlands was among the largest investors in Saudi Arabia, making up nearly 4 per cent of foreign direct investment that year, said the Dutch government.

In addition to trade in oil and gas, the Netherlands exports a wide range of products and technology in  agriculture, machinery, chemical and petrochemical sectors to Saudi Arabia.

A Dutch foreign ministry spokesman said the government was trying to contact Riyadh regarding the matter. The stickers were first printed in December.

“The cabinet strongly distanced itself from the insults Wilders first made to the Saudi flag and the religion in December,” said the spokesman. “It still does now.”

Mr. Wilders, in reaction to possible trade measures by Saudi Arabia, said the Netherlands “should have boycotted that country a long time ago”.

The  controversial sticker uses the green and white colors  of the Saudi  flag . That flag is emblazoned with the  Islamic profession of faith, the Shahada and the sword, the symbol of Jihad. The inscription on the sticker was translated into Arabic and read:  “Islam is a lie. Mohammed is a crook. The Quran is poison”.  The Dutch newspaper,  Z 24  wrote:

Following a complaint by the National Council of Moroccans at the time of the PVV sticker campaign launch Google blocked the e -mail address where people could order the sticker. Then Wilders made ​​a new account with another Internet company.

Deputy Premier Lodewijk Asscher called it ” a disgusting sticker with the sole purpose to hurt .” Wilders, said the intention was not to hurt, but to shock. It is not clear why Saudi Arabia would take action just now.

Perhaps  Saudi Arabia is taking the action because Wilders and the Freedom Party (PVV) are tied in the lead position as the European  Parliamentary elections are about to held  later this week , May 22 to 25.  Clearly, the Saudis are endeavoring to intimidate the Dutch electorate to desist from casting a ballot for the PVV MEP slate. That may also be a message to voters in other countries where Euro skeptic parties have Anti-Muslim immigration positions akin to those of the PVV and Wilders.

The Economist in a forecast of the upcoming European Parliamentary election noted the rise of these –Euro skeptic or “populist” parties:

To add to the drama will be the presence in the parliament of so many populist parties, most of them anti-European. These range from far-left, like Syriza in Greece and the United Left in Spain, to far-right, such as Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France, Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and Golden Dawn in Greece. Britain has the UK Independence Party, Italy has Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement and the Northern League. Most central and eastern European countries have populist parties, some nastily racist. The latest polls suggest that the number of MEPs who could be classified as anti-European may rise after the election from about 140 now to more than 200, well over a quarter of the total.

The delayed  Saudi reaction to the PVV anti-Islam  sticker campaign launched five months ago is  all about imposing  a Blasphemy code. The Wahhabist Saudi government is  trying to silence criticism of  Islam threatening the free speech of Wilders and the liberty of those Dutch voters who are inclined towards his message.  A message the PVV propounds that  Muslim mass immigration in Holland  harbors  the seeds of homegrown terrorism on a significant scale.   Soeren Kern  presented  that reality  drawn from a Dutch intelligence report in the Hague Parliament last Month in a  Gatestone Institute articleDutch Jihadists in Syria Pose Threat to the Netherlands.  He wrote:

More than 100 Dutch Muslims travelled to Syria in 2013 with the intention of taking part in jihadist activities there, and at least 20 battle-hardened jihadists have since returned to the Netherlands, posing a significant threat to national security, according to a new report published by the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD.

The AIVD annual report for 2013 was presented by Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk and AIVD head Rob Bertholee in The Hague on April 23. In contrast to previous years, when the main security threat was deemed to be a cyber-attack, the principal concern in this year’s report is the mounting threats posed by the returning jihadists, as well as by Muslim hate preachers who are using the Internet to radicalize young Dutch Muslims and incite them to violence.

The report warns that the presence of European fighters in Syria provides the jihadist groups active there with an “excellent opportunity to recruit individuals familiar with our region to commit acts of terrorism here.” In addition, returnees could “exploit their status as veterans to radicalize others in the Netherlands.” Overall, AIVD’s primary concern is about the radicalizing influence that Dutch jihadists will exert on Muslim communities in the Netherlands.

Against this evidence Wilders has attracted an increasing following among non-Muslim Dutch voters.  If the PVV MEP slate comes out on top in the coming elections this week that could be a harbinger of a PVV led coalition in a future Hague parliamentary election.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Conservative Freedom Party Leads Poll for Dutch European Parliament Elections

Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) leads in  Dutch polls next month’s European Parliament elections.  According to a report in the Dutch publication, Spitsnieuws:

A TNS NIPO poll published today predicts that the PVV, the Party for Freedom of Geert Wilders,  will become the biggest party in the European elections in the Netherlands.

According to the poll the PVV is going to win the European elections on 22 May with 18.1% of the votes, followed by the Liberal VVD of Prime Minister Mark Rutte with 16.2% and the liberal-democrat D66 party with 15.7%.

The losers of the European elections would be the Christian-Democrats and Labor.

In our April NER article, Geert Wilders Once Again Endures a Firestorm of Criticism, we noted how Dutch voters in the March 2014 municipal elections had voted their disapproval of the ruling coalition parties in the Hague Parliament, noting how they immediately tried to pin the blame on Geert  Wilders as an extremist.  Presciently in our conclusion we suggested that those same Dutch voters would ultimately vindicate him in the May european elections.  We wrote:

To paraphrase England’s Henry II regarding the fate of former boon companion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett, the Dutch political and media establishment might say: “who will rid us of this upstart meddlesome blonde.” We hope that those Dutch folks who went to the polls on March 19th and gave the PVV victories in several smaller municipalities may be joined by others in the majority, who didn’t vote. That might  provide the PVV with a victory in the May EU parliamentary elections. We have seen Wilders bounce back from previous episodes like a proverbial cat with nine lives. His Euro-skeptic alliance partners, especially Ms. Le Pen in France, would deem that a stunning and well deserved turnabout.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.