10:50 GMT26 February 2021
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    Geert Wilders, the Dutch-businessman turned Party for Freedom leader, has gotten into legal trouble repeatedly in his home country, getting sued and receiving death threats from the likes of al-Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalists abroad for his provocative comments on Islam and the alleged “Islamisation of the Netherlands” and Europe.

    Turkish prosecutors launched a formal investigation into right-wing populist Dutch politician Geert Wilders over a 15 February tweet in which he called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “Terrorist,” Anadolu Agency has reported.

    The tweet shows a stylised portrait of Erdogan, the flag of Turkey to one side, and a flag of Daesh (ISIS)* on the other, with the Turkish president’s face split into two between his publicly-known image and what looks like a jihadist militant.

    In a separate tweet Monday, Wilders wrote that it was time that Prime Minister Mark Rutte “shows guts and tackles the terrorist Erdogan, stops his influence in the Netherlands, expels Turkey from NATO and expels the Turkish ambassador".

    The comments came amid demands by a group of lawmakers including Wilders that the cabinet release a much-anticipated confidential report by the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV) on the Turkish leader’s alleged role in the rise of Salafism in the Netherlands, his “anti-Western rhetoric” and his alleged failure to condemn jihadist attacks in Western countries.

    In a statement cited by Anadolu Tuesday, Turkish presidential spokesman Fahrettin Altun dismissed Wilders’ comments, suggesting that he and his “merry band of neo-Nazis” never “amounted to anything”, and expressing concerns that some of Europe’s “seemingly moderate governments and ostensibly responsible policymakers” seem to share some of his views.

    Altun blasted the NCTV report, calling it “groundless, biased and ignorant”, and suggesting it is more concerning than Wilders. “Turkey and the Turkish community in Europe have always been a bulwark against terrorism and extremism. To say otherwise is to serve racism and Islamophobia,” the official said.

    This isn’t the first time that Wilders, one of Europe’s most prominent opposition politicians from the populist right, has gotten into legal trouble with the Turks. Last October, Erdogan’s office filed a complaint against Wilders over his repeated attacks on the Turkish president’s “personality, dignity and reputation”, including a controversial cartoon of the leader wearing a bomb for a hat, and a separate image of a sinking ship featuring a Turkish flag.

    Wilders tweeted the insults after Erdogan made comments questioning the mental health of French President Emmanuel Macron when the latter announced a crackdown on political Islam following the beheading of a French high school teacher by a radicalised youth.

    In September 2020, an appeals court acquitted Wilders of a separate case on discrimination, while holding up a conviction for intentionally insulting Moroccans. In 2011, Wilders was acquitted on charges of hate speech over comments comparing Islam to Nazism.

    * A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.


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