Thursday

18th Jan 2018

Dutch anti-Trump protesters turn on Wilders

  • 'Stay afraid and vote PVV', a probably sardonic reference to Geert Wilders' far-right party (Photo: Peter Teffer)

Some 2,000 people gathered in The Hague to protest against US President Donald Trump, using the rally to register their disapproval for anti-EU politician Geert Wilders.

“No Trump, no Wilders, no hate,” said one sign.

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  • Some 2,000 people are estimated to have shown up at the protest in the Hague, the seat of the Dutch parliament and government (Photo: Peter Teffer)

Another said: “We have a dream: No walls, no Trump, no Wilders”.

The protest on Wednesday (1 February) just two blocks from the US embassy was nominally against Trump's decision to bar entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority states.

“How bad must the president be that even other countries are protesting too,” said one sign held up by a woman wearing a grey knit cap.

Many at this protest equated Trump's election to the popularity of far-right MP Geert Wilders, whose Party for Freedom will become – according to polls – the biggest or second biggest after elections on 15 March.

Protester Leon Korteweg said the protest represented “an international battle”.

“We see in Europe a similar movement, of people who want to ban immigration by specifically Muslims,” he told EUobserver, naming Wilders' party and Marine Le Pen's French far-right sister party National Front.

EU flag

Korteweg was carrying a flag of the European Union.

“I support the European Union and European values, as a symbol against nationalism and xenophobia,” he said.

Korteweg, 26, said he had studied history, but that many of his generation took the fruits of the EU for granted.

“I think a lot of people forgot how much we owe the European Union, and that we should be glad that there is so much peace and respect for human rights, and that so much is done to protect the environment and social equality.”

He said he already had decided he would vote for D66, “the most pro-European party I could find”.

At the protest, D66 frontman Alexander Pechtold could also be seen, as well as other politicians. Behind the stage stood parked a campaign bus from the centre-left Labour party, and a car with the logo of the far-left Socialist Party. Flags of those and other left-wing parties were also waved.

'Hypocrite!'

A Labour minister spoke, but she was not welcomed by everyone.

“Hypocrite! Hypocrite!” some shouted. Labour is in a coalition government with the centre-right Liberals and supported the EU migration deal with Turkey.

Others held up signs expressing their discontent with the EU's migration policy.

“Fortress Europe kills just like Trump! Refugees freeze to death @Lesbos,” said one sign, referring to the Greek island where many refugees are stuck.

Trump effect

The leader of the left-wing Green party, Jesse Klaver, also turned out at the protest, telling EUobserver Trump's travel ban will have an influence on the Dutch election.

“You see that happening here. We think it is very important that this will not happen in the Netherlands, this discrimination based on faith or background, that's unacceptable,” he said.

“Fortunately Wilders does not have the same power Trump does, and he will never get that.”

Parties in the Netherlands always need to form coalitions, and many of the bigger parties have excluded Wilders as a potential partner.

“His ideas do match [those of Trump's], and that is very serious,” said Klaver.

Hippies

Wilders, who early on had already embraced Trump, seemed imperturbable.

He mocked the protesters via his favourite means of communication, Twitter.

“Why don't those lost left-wing spirits go to work or find a job,” he tweeted, adding the hashtag “Stop the hippies”.

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