In a surprising turn of events, Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders has called for the withdrawal of a 2018 legislation recommending a ban on mosques and the Quran. On Monday, January 8, Wilders sent a letter to parliament’s lower house leader, Martin Bosma, urging the withdrawal of the contentious 2018 bill that proposed banning Islamic institutions, including mosques, the Quran, and the wearing of burqas and niqabs, as reported by Anadolu Agency (AA).
This move by Wilders comes on the eve of the resumption of talks regarding the formation of the next government, following the November 2023 elections. Wilders, who won 37 seats in the Dutch parliament in 2023, has been at the center of a national debate after expressing a willingness to soften his party’s strong anti-Islam stance.
The controversial politician also requested the withdrawal of two additional bills—one aimed at prohibiting dual nationalities and another related to administrative detention. These bills were initially presented to Parliament in 2017, 2018, and 2019, but Wilders failed to secure a majority in the House of Representatives on each occasion.
Wilders’ call for the withdrawal of the anti-Islam legislation marks a significant departure from his earlier positions. In 2023, he initiated a discussion within his party about adopting a more moderate approach towards Islam, emphasizing adherence to the constitution and the alignment of proposals with its principles.
“I will adapt our rules to the constitution and align our proposals with it. Sometimes I will have to withdraw proposals, and I will do that,” Wilders stated, as quoted by the Associated Press. The move to reconsider the controversial bills is seen by many as an attempt by Wilders to navigate a more inclusive political path, responding to the changing dynamics within the Dutch political landscape.
The timing of this announcement, just ahead of government formation talks, adds an additional layer of complexity to the ongoing political developments in the Netherlands. As discussions resume, the withdrawal of these contentious bills is likely to play a pivotal role in shaping the future direction of Dutch politics, particularly concerning issues related to religion, identity, and multiculturalism.
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