German Der Spiegel recently interviewed Dutch politician Geert Wilders. The headlines focused on his comments that Merkel is afraid of his popularity, or that the Koran is worse than Mein Kampf, though in Wilders' case, saying he doesn't want to ban Islam and doesn't intend to deport Muslims seem more headline-worthy.
Spiegel now published the entire article in English.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Wilders, you are said to be the strong man behind the new Dutch government because the minority cabinet depends on your support in parliament. Why is your party, 65 years after the Holocaust, relying on outdated approaches -- on religious and racial exclusion?
Wilders: We do not support religious exclusion -- and certainly not racial exclusion. We have no problems with other skin colors, nor with Muslims -- our problem is with Islam. Indeed, we are expressing exactly what many of our compatriots feel. We became the third strongest party during the elections in June and are now, according to the most recent opinion polls, already the second strongest party in Holland.
SPIEGEL: What do you have against Islam?
Wilders: Europe's greatest problem -- not just today, but already for decades now -- is cultural relativism. This has led to a situation today where Europeans no longer know what they should be proud of and who they really are -- because a so-called liberal and leftist-imposed concept says that all cultures are the same.
SPIEGEL: You do not acknowledge that cultures and religions can be changed by people. Isn't that exactly how it was with the Catholic Church?
Wilders: Yes, but how long did it take? I am not saying that I want to ban Islam. I want less Islam in Europe -- because it doesn't allow any room for debate. By contrast, take Judaism and the life in the yeshivas: That is where they debate how the Talmud should be interpreted. With the Koran, however, anyone who does not believe every word is an infidel. And the punishment for that is well known: death.
Wilders: I do not believe in genetic causes; I am miles away from there. I believe rather that all people who embrace our values, our laws and our constitution are full members of our society. I would even go so far as to say that the majority of the Muslims in Europe are people like you and I; they lead a normal life, have a normal occupation and want the best for their children. My problem is with the growing influence of an ideology that will cost us our freedom.
SPIEGEL: Was the whole "head rag tax" business a bad joke?
Wilders: No, not a joke, just one proposal among others. Don't forget, we support a minority government which would not be in power without us. And this means that there will soon be a ban in Holland on wearing the burqa and an enormous reduction in immigration. We are very successful.
SPIEGEL: What will happen to the Dutch Muslims? Those who refuse to adapt will be sent back in the future?
Wilders: No, not sent back -- unless they are criminals.
SPIEGEL: Isn't it really the case that your party is fighting the wrong battle -- in the name of a Western civilization that is noticeably suffering from an aging population, demographic decline and disaffection with political parties?
Wilders: The demographic development is in fact negative. I read the other day that in England last year the most commonly chosen first name for a boy was Mohammed. I have nothing against Muslim babies. But if Mohammed is now the new favorite name of the English, we have a problem. Europe has to rise up and, with united forces, tell the Islamic world: Enough is enough, we will defend ourselves with democratic means.