Born In: Venlo, Netherlands
Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who heads the nationalist, right-wing Freedom Party, or Party for Freedom, is known in popular media as the Dutch Donald Trump, for his radical Islamophobic and anti-immigrant stance. Starting his political career with the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, he later quit the party over differences regarding Turkey’s inclusion in the European Union. In 2006, he formed the Freedom Party, or PVV. Since his early political years, he is known for promoting anti-Islamic views and later suggested banning the Quran, closing down all mosques in the Netherlands, and taxing the hijab. His fiery speeches have led him to become a target of Islamist terrorist groups, and his security cover has been strengthened over the years, as a result of multiple threats to his life. He has also penned controversial books such as Marked for Dead: Islam’s War Against the West and Me and was in trouble over his anti-Islam short film Fitna.
Spouse/Ex-: Krisztina Wilders
father: Johannes Henricus Andreas Wilders
mother: Maria Anne Ording
siblings: Paul Wilders
Born Country: Netherlands
Notable Alumni: Open University
Founder/Co-Founder: Party for Freedom
education: Open University
Geert Wilders was born on September 6, 1963, in the Roman Catholic middle-class family of a Dutch father and an Indonesian-born mother, in the small city of Venlo in the Netherlands. Wilders was the youngest of the four children of his parents.
His father worked in a Dutch printing company. It is believed, Wilders later distanced himself from his mother’s side of the family.
Wilders grew up in the south-eastern Netherlands, close to the German border. He initially attended the Mavo and Havo secondary school in Venlo and then took law classes through Open University of his country.
He was 17 when he headed to Israel. He lived in the country from 1981 to 1983, working on a moshav, or an Israeli collective farm. He got acquainted with Zionism and Jews there.
He then travelled extensively through the Middle East. It was during his trips to several Muslim nations that Wilders started developing the anti-Islamic views that later shaped much of his political ideas and views.
After moving back to the Netherlands, Geert Wilders worked briefly in the health insurance industry. He later stepped into politics as a speech-writer for the center-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), a party he formally joined in 1988.
He then began working as a parliamentary assistant for Dutch politician and conservative MP Frits Bolkestein. He specialized in foreign policy and held the job from 1990 to 1998. In fact, in 1997, he became a local representative in Utrecht. It was during his early years in politics that he decided to bleach his brown hair blond.
During this time, Wilders was also inspired by another political leader, Pim Fortuyn. Fortuyn, who was openly gay, was part of the right-wing Livable Netherlands party but was dropped after he made an inflammatory speech about keeping Muslim immigrants out of the Netherlands.
In 1998, Geert Wilders became an elected member of the Dutch parliament as a member of VVD. Wilders then took advantage of the post-9/11 global political scenario to shape his political stance.
However, in 2004, he had irreconcilable differences with other VVD members over the party’s decision to support Turkey’s inclusion in the European Union. He thus quit the party, and in 2006, he founded the Freedom Party, also known as PVV.
The party, often termed a one-man party, won nine seats in the 2006 Dutch parliamentary election. It soon became the third-largest party in the country. Wilders made prominent remarks against Islam quite frequently and, in 2007, suggested that the Quran be banned in the Netherlands.
In November 2013, he announced a political alliance with Marine Le Pen’s French party National Front. The duo decided to create a bloc in the European Parliament, called the European Alliance for Freedom, which focused on destroying the European Union bureaucracy and imposing strict immigration controls. While in the 2014 European Union parliamentary elections, Le Pen secured a historic win in France, PVV’s anti-immigrant stance was largely rejected by the Dutch.
His party has supported closing down every mosque in the Netherlands, while he once compared the Quran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. In 2016, he was charged with inciting discrimination against Dutch Moroccans in his remarks in a 2014 televised speech. He also once supported imposing taxes on the hijab.
Geert Wilders has also spoken against immigrants and has often used fake news to gain mileage against his political opponents. In 2017, just before the general elections, he tweeted a morphed photograph of social-liberal politician Alexander Pechtold, holding up a sign at a protest, that read: “Islam will dominate the world, freedom can go to hell.”
Known in the media as the Dutch Donald Trump, Wilders, like Trump, relies on social media to express his Islamophobic ideas. He is mostly found on Twitter, where his profile once called on people to “Stop Islam.” He also once termed Moroccan immigrants “scum” and accused them of making Dutch streets “unsafe.”
He has also spoken about making “Netherlands great again,” closing the Dutch borders to Muslim immigrants, and taking the Netherlands out of the EU. Wilders suspended his 2017 election campaign after a secret service agent, who was responsible for protecting him, was charged with leaking sensitive details regarding his security to a criminal organization.
In August 2019, Wilders appreciated the Indian government’s decision to revoke the special status of the Jammu & Kashmir state. He also termed Pakistan “a 100 per cent terror state.” He later supported suspended Indian politician and BJP leader Nupur Sharma who was criticized for her blasphemous remarks about the Prophet Mohammad in a TV new channel debate.
However, his prominent anti-Islamic remarks has made him a potential target of Islamic terrorist organizations. Due to multiple threats to his life, he and his family have been under police protection since 2004. This was done after Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was shot at and stabbed to death after he made a TV film criticizing Islam. Since 2017, a special military police unit, that usually secures embassies in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, was added to his security cover.
In 2009, Geert Wilders made a short film named Fitna, meaning Strife. The film was markedly Islamophobic in nature, featuring passages from the Quran along with images from several Islamist terrorist attacks, such as 9/11 and the Madrid bombings.
After failing to get a distributor for the film, he released it on the internet. He later set out on a tour to promote the film, but in February 2009, he was stopped from entering the UK briefly, as British officials believed his entry would lead to incitement and further controversies.
Soon, a Dutch court charged him with inciting hatred toward Muslims. The trial that followed stretched for over 2 years. However, in June 2011, Wilders was acquitted on all charges.
In 2012, he penned the book Marked for Dead: Islam’s War Against the West and Me. The book described how critics of Islam were subjected to prosecutions, threats, and suppression of free speech. His other books include Choose Freedom: An Honest Answer (2005) and The Wilders File, Statements by the Most Discussed Dutch Politician of this Century (2010).
Geert Wilders married Krisztina Márfai in Hungary, Budapest, in 1992. Krisztina is of Hungarian origin and was born in the village of Nyírparasznya, in Szabolcs-Szatmár county, near the Ukrainian border. Wilders’s platinum blond hair has earned him nicknames such as Mozart and Captain Peroxide.
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