Saudi Arabia complains about Dutch politician’s remarks on Islam

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the Netherlands complained to a senior Dutch diplomat about recent remarks by a prominent politician critical of Muslim immigrants and Islam, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

Ministry spokesman Ahmed Dadou said he could not reveal the name of the diplomat with whom Ambassador Waleed Elkhereiji raised the issue at a reception over the weekend, but said the discussion did not rise to the level of a formal complaint or a diplomatic incident.

The ambassador was upset with remarks by Geert Wilders, a member of parliament known for his outspoken opposition to Muslim immigrants, whom he has described as a threat to the Dutch way of life.

In an interview with Dutch daily newspaper De Pers on Feb. 13, Wilders was quoted as saying, “If Muslims want to stay here, they should tear up half of the Quran and throw it away … there are terrible things in there.”

He also said “Islam is a violent religion. If (the Prophet) Muhammad lived here today, I would propose to chase him out of the country with tar and feathers.”

Explaining his party’s position, Wilders told the newspaper that they want “the borders shut” to Muslim immigrants and no more mosques or Islamic schools to be opened. Wilders added that Muslims who commit crimes in the Netherlands should be stripped of their citizenship.

On Friday, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said at a news conference that the remarks were “regrettable” and Wilders’ views did not represent those of the Dutch government, Dadou said.

Wilders leads the Freedom Party, which won nine seats in the 150-member parliament in Nov. 22 elections on an anti-immigration platform. He lives under constant police protection due to threats against his life from Muslims offended by his views.

Wilders’ remarks were widely reported in newspapers in Pakistan and Morocco, and there was some concern that they could damage the Netherlands’ international interests. The Dutch have nearly 2,000 soldiers serving in the NATO force in Afghanistan.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday February 19, 2007.
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