Netherlands: Muslims fear future after anti-Islam Geert Wilders scores victory in Dutch vote
The far-right and anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV) has won a dramatic victory in the Dutch general elections, finishing well ahead of his nearest rival, a left-wing alliance of Greens and social democrats.
With almost all votes counted, the party led by Geert Wilders is set to win 37 seats in the 150 member parliament.
News of the victory will not only shake Dutch society and embolden other far-right parties across the continent, it will be a major cause for concern amongst the country’s Muslim population.
Wilders has pledged to be a "prime minister for everyone", but in order to do that he will need to convince other parties to join a coalition and secure the 76 seats needed for a majority.
The far-right politician ran on an anti-migration ticket promising to close the country’s borders. Wilders has also promised to put on hold a previous pledge to ban the Quran, the Muslim holy book.
That promise, however, will do little to allay the fears of the country’s Muslim community.
Islamic and Moroccan organisations in the Netherlands expressed shock and dismay at the results following the initial results.
"The distress and fear are very great," said Habib el-Kaddouri from a Dutch-Moroccan association speaking to local Dutch media.
“Wilders is known for his ideas about Muslims and Moroccans. We are afraid that he will portray us as second-class citizens," added Kaddouri.
Members of the Muslim community now fear their future in the country.
"Everyone is talking about social security, but I don't know if we still have it," said Muhsin Koktas, who heads an organisation that lobbies the government on behalf of Muslims, in an interview with local media.
"I don't know whether Muslims are still safe in the Netherlands. I worry about this country," said Koktas, adding that "in any case, a very difficult period begins for Muslims."
The heads of the three other biggest Dutch parties have all said they would not serve in a PVV-led cabinet, however, given the scale of the mandate received by Wilders, they might face pressure to give his party a chance to rule.
In 2016 Wilders, 60, was convicted of discrimination after he called Moroccans “scum”.
The party's manifesto says "We want less Islam in the Netherlands and we will achieve that through: less non-Western immigration and the introduction of a general halt to asylum."
Wilders has also promised in the past to stop the construction of new mosques, implement a ban on wearing Islamic scarves in government buildings, and has compared Islam to a totalitarian ideology that should be banned.
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.