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article imageWilders resumes Dutch campaign after security scare

By AFP     Mar 1, 2017 in World

Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders and his far-right Freedom Party said Wednesday that they would resume their public activities after suspending them last week because of a security scare.

"We're going back across the country! The voter wants to see us and we the voter!" Wilders said on the party's website, as the country gears up for elections on March 15.

The Dutch vote will kick off what is being called a "super election" year in Europe, with far-right and populist parties seeking to upend the political landscape in a number of countries, including France and Germany.

Wilders and his party, known as the PVV, halted all election activities last week after a police officer of Moroccan descent was arrested for allegedly leaking information about Wilders's movements to a Moroccan crime gang.

The firebrand lawmaker, who has courted controversy with his hardline anti-Islam, anti-immigrant stance and incendiary insults against Moroccans and Turks, has long been under 24-hour police protection.

Polls show the Freedom Party running neck-and-neck with the Liberals led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Wilders last month upped the tone at the official launch of his campaign, denouncing "a lot of Moroccan scum who make the streets unsafe".

Dutch newspaper NRC reported a week ago that the arrested police agent, part of a unit charged with the security of politicians and VIPs, including Wilders, was allegedly passing information on him to a Moroccan crime gang.

Dutch police chief Erik Akkerboom confirmed that an investigation had been opened but that Wilders's safety "was never in question".

Wilders will now again participate in television shows and newspaper interviews while resuming his canvassing in the streets, mainly in the southern Netherlands where polls show that support for the PVV is strong.

Netherlands is no stranger to political violence, even though the small country of just 17 million people has a reputation for tolerance.

Flamboyant far-right leader Pim Fortuyn was assassinated just nine days before Dutch elections in 2002, a killing that rocked the country.

Two years later in November 2004, filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim radical.

Wilders, 53, has vowed in his party's one-page manifesto that if elected he will ban the sale of Korans, close mosques and Islamic schools, shut Dutch borders and ban Muslim migrants.

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