Integration minister Eberhard van der Laan has sought direct confrontation with anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders for the third time in a week, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday.
After parliamentary questions on Tuesday, Van der Laan again criticised Wilders’ statement on Danish tv that ‘millions, tens of millions’ of Muslims who commit a crime or ‘start thinking about jihad or sharia’ should be stripped of their Dutch nationality and deported.
Wilders’ claim that there are 50 million Muslims in Europe is wrong, because he is also including Muslims in Russia – which stretches to Japan, the minister said. In total, Europe has 20 million Muslims, the minister said.
The paper points out that the two men have have never crossed in parliament. But Wilders used to regularly attack Van der Laan’s predecessor and fellow Labour party member Ella Vogelaar, and famously called her ‘totally bonkers’.
Labour party stalwarts told the AD they were pleased Van der Laan had ‘finally’ started attacking Wilders.
‘I support his more radical approach,’ said Rotterdam Labour councillor Dominic Schrijer. ‘That moaning about Muslims and the Koran has to stop. It [the debate] should be about the real problems in the locality.’
But Tilburg University political scientist Marcel Boogers said he did not think Van der Laan’s approach would have much affect on voters. ‘He is trying to show that Wilders got the number of Muslims wrong, but I don’t think most people care. You have to offer them perspective.’