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Dutch FM condemns anti-Islam politician

Dutch FM condemns anti-Islam politician

[11/March/2010]

br>BRUSSELS, March 11 (Saba) -- Dutch caretaker Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has denounced the right-wing extremist and anti-Islam leader of the Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, for damaging the reputation of The Netherlands in the Muslim world, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) has reported.

"His method is simple; he plays people off against one another - in a highly distasteful fashion," local media quoted Verhagen as saying a conference on diplomacy in Holland on Thursday.

"He is damaging the interests of the Dutch people and the reputation of The Netherlands in the wider world. If we allow discrimination and hatred to spread, this will only lead to segregation, polarisation, escalation and, eventually, confrontation," said Verhagen.
Verhagen was referring to Wilders' recent news conference in London, during which he insulted the prophet of Islam.

"Freedom of expression is not a licence to insult other people at will. Everyone has the responsibility to show respect for the rights and reputations of others," said Verhagen.

"Islam is not the problem. There are more than 800,000 people in The Netherlands with roots in the Islamic world, about 5.3 percent of our population. The overwhelming majority of them adheres to the values and rules of Dutch society and participates in Dutch society," he said. The Dutch minister said he wanted to improve the image of The Netherlands in the Arab and the Muslim world.

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