SHAFAQNA – Dutch centre-right prime minister Mark Rutte scored a resounding victory over anti-Islam and anti-European Union candidate Geert Wilders in the parliamentary elections held last week.
Writing in the London-based pan-Arab daily paper Asharq Al Awsat, Saudi columnist Abdulrahman Al Rashed said the 2017 Dutch elections were being followed by Arabs, Muslims and the western nations like never before.
The reason behind such interest is the racist movement that has been knocking on the government’s door, certain that it would win this time around.
“On the eve of the elections, many held their breath while waiting for the results that threatened to open up a new era of fascism that could invade Europe through ballot boxes,” Al Rashed noted.
According to the writer, the mushrooming fascist movements focus on scaring the western public – including the Dutch – about the influx of refugees and the doubling of immigration, not to mention Muslim extremists and terrorists.
The danger of the emerging extreme-right movements cannot be denied, nor can the spread of racism in the West be overlooked.
“We should be aware that right-wing extremists do not have any economic or service-orientated programmes. They merely resort to scaring the public about Muslims and immigrants who they claim will control their countries and churches and turn their children into jihadists,” Al Rashed wrote.
The writer considered Muslim extremists as the strongest ally of western radicals as they tarnish the image of Islam and depict all Muslims as haters.
He added that a part of the truth is usually left out in hate speech.
“In case of the Netherlands, the racists do not mention the fact that most Muslims are peaceful and productive, while Islamist radicals fail to tell Muslim people that the Dutch are among the most tolerant communities in the world.”
According to Arabic-language commentator Salah Hassan, this election day will go down in history.
“The Dutch have voted for moderation and liberalism against populism and racism,” Hassan wrote in the London-based pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Hayat.
“They have slammed the door in the face of the hatred incited by Geert Wilders – a move that could be mirrored in France, Germany and other European countries.”
Statistics showed a whopping turnout of about 80 per cent, which conveyed an important message to EU countries, particularly France and Germany.
However, the writer said Mr Wilders has not lost entirely.
“On the contrary, Mr Wilders’ party won four additional seats and secured a total of 20 out of 150 seats. His party came second along with two other parties that had been part of the government.
“That itself shows that the voice of the opposition led by Mr Wilders will henceforth be heard loud and clear. It might even throw a spanner in the works for the parliament and the new legislation on immigration, building mosques and reuniting immigrants and refugees,” the writer noted.
That said, Hassan did not expect to see much difference between the new government and its predecessor.
“Some parties will take the back seat while others will surface, giving Mr Rutte a second chance to forge alliances with these moderate or moderate-left parties.
“In other words, the status quo will remain – except, perhaps, for a slight improvement in the economic recession and unemployment,” he concluded.