Dutch Freedom party leader tells far-right gathering in Prague Europe should also turn back migrant boats like Australia
European countries should adopt Donald Trump-style travel bans to counter a wave of Islamisation supposedly sweeping the continent, the Dutch anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders has said.
Wilders, the leader of the Netherlands’ Freedom party (PVV), made his comments at a gathering of far-right leaders in Prague. He also urged Europe to adopt Australia’s tactics in turning back migrant boats and to build new border walls, as Trump has vowed to do along the US frontier with Mexico.
Wilders was flanked during his press conference by France’s Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, and Tomio Okamura, the leader of the Czech Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD), which finished joint third in recent parliamentary election with nearly 11% of the vote.
Security was tight at the press event, held at a hotel just off Wenceslas Square, apparently in recognition of death threats against Wilders in response to his fierce denunciations of Islam.
Wilders, who was convicted last year by a Dutch court for incitement against Moroccans, cited US research he claimed showed that the Czech Republic would be bordered to the north, south and west by countries that were more than 20% Muslim by the middle of the century if current demographic trends continued.
“It will be almost as if you are bordering a kind of Gaza Strip on almost every border,” he said.
“We must adopt a totally new strategy. We must have the courage to restrict legal immigration instead of expanding it, even if we sometimes have to build a wall.”
Trump’s travel ban, which applies to six Muslim-majority nations plus North Korea and Venezuela, has been one of his most controversial policies. It has been the subject of various challenges in court, and rulings that have overturned and suspended it. The US supreme court ruled this month that it could be implemented for now while numerous challenges were resolved.
The Prague gathering came at an encouraging moment for the organisers, the European parliament’s populist Europe of Nations and Freedom grouping,. The Austrian Freedom party (FPO), one of the participants, became the only far-right party in government in a western European state on Friday, after joining a coalition with the conservative People’s party.
That followed a year of setbacks for Wilders and Le Pen, who failed to make the electoral breakthroughs many had forecast. The PVV remains in opposition in the Netherlands after a poorer than predicted parliamentary election result last March, and Emmanuel Macron beat Le Pen in the second round of France’s presidential poll in May.
A similar meeting last January in the German town of Koblenz was held amid euphoric expectations of major successes in 2017.
Le Pen said Europe’s rightwing groups were linked by a belief that the European Union was a “catastrophic, disastrous organisation” and that the migration flows were “unbearable”. She also praised Okamura, with whom she said she had been working for many months.
Tokyo born-Okamura, the son of a part-Japanese father and Czech mother, said the parties were defending European values.
Wilders, Le Pen and Okamura later received rousing ovations at the weekend’s main event, a conference at the Top Hotel, a nondescript Communist-era facility in Chodov, a bleak suburb several miles from the centre of Prague.
The venue was cordoned off, a police helicopter hovered overhead and riot police monitored two groups of leftwing protesters.
“The dangerous thing is that the extreme views we see on display here have entered the mainstream, with even the Czech Social Democrats accepting them,” said Honza, a protest organiser who declined to give his full name for safety reasons.
Similar mistrust was evident inside, where security personnel scrutinised journalists closely and escorted them to and from a sectioned-off area.
The independent British MEP, Janice Atkinson, a former Ukip member, invoked the Czech fight against communism, the failed 1968 Prague Spring and Margaret Thatcher to encourage her audience to campaign for a Czexit referendum that could enable the Czech Republic to follow Britain out of the EU.
“As Margaret Thatcher said, Europe is stronger precisely because France is France, Spain is Spain, Britain is Britain and, just as important, Czech is Czech,” she said. “Long live the Europe of nations. Long live the Czech Republic.”
Far-right populists in Europe vowed Saturday to work together to create a new model of intercontinental cooperation that is far removed from the European Union. They attacked the EU for its migrant policies, accused its leader of trying to create a super state run by Brussels and praised U.S. President Trump's approach to migration.
Leaders of parties from France, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Britain and other countries met in Prague to discuss ideas for Europe's future under the headline "For a Europe of Sovereign Nations."
, leader of France's far-right National Front, blamed the EU for getting "everything wrong."
"Because we love Europe, we accuse the EU of killing Europe," Le Pen told reporters. She said parties like hers want to save Europe "by preserving nation-states."
"We are not xenophobes, we are opponents of the European Union," Le Pen said. "I think this is something we have in common, because the European Union is a disastrous organization which is leading our continent to destruction through dilution by drowning it in migrants, by the negation of our respective countries, by the draining of our diversity."
, founder of the Dutch anti-Islam Party for Freedom, followed suit.
"My party is convinced that the Netherlands would be better off outside the European Union, and it will be better for our economy, for our security," Wilders said.
Wilders singled out immigration and "Islamization" of Europe as the most pressing issues.
"We must have the courage, to introduce travel bans as President Trump has done in the United States," he said. "We must have the courage to restrict legal immigration instead of expanding it. We must have the courage to repatriate the illegal immigrants."
Parties with anti-immigration platforms have been making gains at the polls in Europe, although Wilders and Le Pen both ran unsuccessfully this year for the top political posts in their countries.
More recently, became a partner in a new coalition government after receiving more than a quarter of the vote in a parliamentary election.
Le Pen called it "very good news, excellent news for Europe."
Muslim refugees arriving in Germany from the Middle East have been told to abandon their anti-Semitism and prepare to learn about the Holocaust, in twin warnings issued from the highest levels of government.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said inbound immigrants must reject any lingering notions of anti-Semitism on arrival, saying acceptance of followers of the Jewish faith remains a “non-negotiable” part of the social contract with their new home.
He spoke as the government announced that it was ready to consider the idea of an anti-Semitism commisioner.
“There are things which are part of Germany. And one of these is our responsibility for our past: the lessons of two World Wars, the lessons from the Holocaust, the responsibility for Israel’s security, the rejection of any form of racism and anti-Semitism,” he said at a Hanukkah event at the Israeli embassy in Berlin.
“For this responsibility, no line can be drawn under the past for later generations – and no exceptions be made for immigrants. It is non-negotiable – for all who live in Germany and want to live here!” he added.
His call follows a new study by the American Jewish Committee’s Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations in Berlin that revealed anti-Semitism among Muslim refugees in Germany requires urgent attention. More than a million migrants have arrived in Germany in the last three years, many of them fleeing conflict in the Middle East, causing concern that anti-Semitism could rise on the back of that influx.
“Anti-Semitic thinking and stereotyping are very common … even among those who emphasize that they ‘respect’ Judaism or that there is no problem living together between Muslims, Christians and Jews in their countries of origin and in Germany,” sociologist Günther Jikeli of Indiana University and the University of Potsdam, Germany said in a statement.
Germany’s new Muslim arrivals were also told they should learn more about the Holocaust in their integration lessons.
As Breitbart News reported, Justice Minister Heiko Maas wrote in an opinion piece for weekly magazine Der Spiegel that the Holocaust, in which the Nazis killed six million Jews, and its significance needed to become an even more important part of integration courses and migrants should be tested on in the examination at the end of their course.
Jens Spahn, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), told Der Spiegel he thought immigration from Muslim countries was one of the causes of recent anti-Semitic demonstrations in Berlin.
Spahn said incidents in recent days “were related to immigration from a culture in which people are not prissy about how they deal with Jews and homosexuals”.
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