BRUSSELS - The political party of Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders has pledged to close mosques and ban Islam’s holy book, the Quran, as anti-Muslim sentiments in the Netherlands grow.
Wilders unveiled the one-page manifesto on his Facebook page on Thursday evening ahead of the Netherlands' parliamentary elections in March.
If they prevail at the polls, Wilders and his Freedom Party, or PVV, said its number one goal would be to halt the 'Islamization' of the Netherlands. The party also vows to close all asylum seeker centers, expel criminals with dual nationalities and refuse migrants from Muslim countries.
The PVV currently leads in almost every opinion poll amid growing anger at the Dutch government’s handling of the refugee crisis.
Though Wilders is leading in national polls, it is unlikely he and the PVV will end up in a coalition as other political parties shun the Freedom Party.
Others rule out coalition with far-right
Sybrand Buma, the leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal, has said repeatedly his party will never form a government coalition with the Freedom Party. Buma said on Twitter that Wilders’ program was full of “empty promises” and called it a “bizarre program that will only lead to fights with everything and everyone."
Wilders’ anti-Islam, anti-immigrant and anti-EU rhetoric is similar to that of other European right-wing parties. The leader of the Danish People’s Party has proposed a ban on Muslim refugees. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban is holding a referendum against the mandatory EU plan to relocate migrants across Europe. And, the leader of France's far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, this week renewed her call for France to leave the European Union.
Wilders also called for a Dutch referendum on the issue immediately after British voters in June chose to quit the EU. His party wants the Netherlands to be "independent" again and states that "instead of financing the entire world and people that we don’t want here, we will invest in ordinary Dutch people.”
Wilders is to appear in court this October on allegations of inciting hatred and discrimination against Moroccan-Dutch citizens. It is unclear what effect the case might have on his campaign. Wilders was found not guilty in a previous case in 2011 when he was accused of insulting religious and ethnic groups.