Dutch election winner Geert Wilders scraps proposal banning mosques and Quran

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In a surprising move, far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders announced on Monday that
he is withdrawing a controversial proposal that he made in 2018 to ban mosques and
the Quran in the Netherlands. The decision came a day before he was set to resume
talks with three other parties to form the next coalition government, following his victory
in the November 2023 general election.
Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV), won 37 seats in the 150-seat lower
house of parliament, making his party the largest in the country. However, he still needs
the support of at least two other parties to form a majority government. One of his
potential partners, Pieter Omtzigt of the reformist New Social Contract, has expressed
concerns that some of Wilders’ policies violate the Dutch Constitution, which
guarantees freedom of religion and expression.
Wilders, who has been a vocal critic of Islam and immigration for years, proposed in
2018 to ban “Islamic expressions” in the Netherlands, including mosques, the Quran,
Islamic schools, and the wearing of burqas and niqabs. He argued that Islam is a
“violent, totalitarian ideology” that poses a threat to the Dutch culture and values. The
proposal, however, never gained enough support in parliament and faced strong
opposition from human rights groups and religious leaders.
On Monday, Wilders said that he is willing to compromise on some of his proposals in
order to form a stable and effective government. He said that he will show the
Netherlands and the other parties that he will respect the constitution and bring his
proposals in line with it. He also said that he will focus on other issues that are
important for his voters, such as lowering taxes, improving health care, and fighting
Wilders is expected to resume coalition talks on Tuesday with Omtzigt, Mark Rutte of
the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), and Caroline van der
Plas of the Farmer Citizen Movement (BBB). The four parties have a combined 76 seats
in parliament, enough to form a slim majority. However, the negotiations are likely to be
difficult and lengthy, as the parties have significant differences on various topics, such
as climate change, immigration, and the European Union.
The withdrawal of the mosque and Quran ban proposal is seen by some analysts as a
sign of pragmatism and moderation from Wilders, who has been accused of inciting
hatred and discrimination against Muslims and other minorities. Others, however,
remain skeptical and wary of his motives and intentions, and question whether he will
stick to his promises or revert to his hardline stance once he is in power.

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