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Hey Habibi, We Need to Talk About Geert

With the European Parliament Elections to take place on 6 June, perhaps it’s time to have a frank heart to heart on just how successful our bottle blonde half-brother from Indonesia, the Leader of the PVV Geert Wilders’ party policies will actually deliver on his election promise, “where the people of the Netherlands can make ends meet again and have money left in their wallets”.

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With the European Parliament Elections to take place on 6 June, perhaps it’s time to have a frank heart to heart on just how successful our bottle blonde half-brother from Indonesia, the Leader of the PVV Geert Wilders’ party policies will actually deliver on his election promise, “where the people of the Netherlands can make ends meet again and have money left in their wallets”.

Letter from the Editor | Joanne Leila Smith

The Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid PVV), founded by Geert Wilders, is the only political party in the world that has just one official member, Geert Wilders. Accordingly, all policy decisions stem from and are endorsed by, one man and, perhaps, his three cats, Noortje, Snoetje, and Pluisje.

According to an article by Utrecht University Professor Koen Damhuis during a 2014 interview with the Dutch news website NU.nl, Wilders says that he entered politics for just one reason, “fighting Islam”.

Damhuis claims that Wilders’ former personal assistant and PVV MP, Johan Driessen says that “Islam is actually the only thing Geert is interested in, the rest is just irrelevant to him.

In his analysis of Wilders tweets between 2011 to 2018, Damhuis claims that 22.7 percent of all the issues he tweeted about were negative statements about Islam—surpassing any other issue.

But let’s not rely on multiple hearsay to know the man, we may look at his past and more recent shenanigans for those who are less acquainted with this Dutch-Wit.

Over the years,Wilders has made several friendly suggestions advocating for the integration of Islam in Dutch social circles, including calls for a ban on Islamic education, Qurans, mosques, and wearing Islamic headscarves in government buildings.

In 2009, Wilders made a lucrative suggestion to increase tax revenue by proposing a 1,000 euros tax on headscarves wearers, or has he dubbed it, a “head rag tax”.

In 2014, Wilders made a very welcoming statement about our Moroccan brothers during local elections. He asked his supporters whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans, leading them to chant “Fewer, fewer, fewer”. His response? “Then we’ll arrange that.” This led to a six-year trial and a guilty verdict of incitement to discrimination and insulting a group.

Rather than give a customary watch as a parting gift, the outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte excluded Wilders from the government for all of his subsequent terms.

However, since Wilders won 37 seats in the 150-seat lower house of the Dutch parliament in the November 2023 general election, Wilders made a not so surprising political pants-down by withdrawing his 2018 proposal to ban “Islamic expressions” as a means to woo potential political partners to form the next government. Afterall, the PVV only has Wilders as its alpha and omega.

Commenting on his departure to “fighting Islam”, Wilders says that “Sometimes I will have to withdraw proposals and I will do that. I will show the Netherlands, the legislature, Mr. Omtzigt’s party — anybody who wants to hear it — that we will adapt our rules to the constitution and bring our proposals in line with it”.

The withdrawal of the bill was perceived to be critical in gaining the trust and support of three more mainstream parties that Wilders wanted to co-opt into a coalition along with his Party for Freedom. One of those parties’ leaders, Pieter Omtzigt of the reformist New Social Contract, had expressed fears that some of Wilders’ policies breached the Dutch Constitution that enshrines liberties, including the freedom of religion.

During a parliamentary debate in December 2023, Wilders was criticized for his past remarks with several MPs and party leaders insisting that Wilders should distance himself from his past positions on Islam, retract his criticisms of the rule of law, and apologize to those who have been frightened or offended by them. However, the real slim shady stood up. Wilders refused.

Predictably, Wilders has been vocal too about his views on the ongoing extermination of unarmed (and now many dismembered) civilians in Palestine

“For me and my party it is not difficult to understand who we support. Are we with the Jewish people who are fighting for their lives, or are we with the extremist Islamist scum who want to destroy it? Until the very end I support Israel,” says Wilders.

Unless his sole news source is BBC News or CNN, it is not our Jewish brothers and sisters that are fighting for their lives, unless Wilders is referring to the political survival of his mate, Benjamin Netanyahu et al.

It seems the only socials Wilders has been following have been of his three cats, not the images that are being livestreamed via TikTok of mass destruction and carnage from the West Bank to Gaza that the entire world has been witnessing in real time.

With all this context in mind, one may surmise that, now that Wilders has a seat at the big boys table, peddling anti-Islam tropes is somewhat provincial.

When it comes to good governance, any statesman that’s worth his roladex knows that “it’s the economy, stupid”.

Given his past economic credentials in raising “head rag” revenue, we are hopeful that Wilders economic agenda has matured since then, and will in fact, deliver a prosperous and flourishing Netherlands.

The top three themes of the VPP manifesto for this election are:

Immigration Control, whereby Wilders advocates for stricter immigration control, arguing that reducing immigration would save the government money and protect jobs for Dutch citizens; and

Nexit. He is skeptical of the European Union and has advocated for the Netherlands to leave the EU. The PVV argue that this would allow the Netherlands to regain control over its own economic policies; and,

Nationalism whereby the PVV promotes a nationalist economic agenda, prioritizing Dutch businesses and workers.

We can write an opus on why the above three ‘cornerstone’ economic policies of the PVV have consistently been proven to in fact, reverse economic growth, increase inflation and economic stagnation. For the sake and love of brevity, we only need to say one word to prove our point.

Brexit.

Don’t take our word for it. The VPP economic agenda is a sophomoric cut and paste from Farageconomics. Just ask any commonfolk on the street, or any farmer in the village, or any respected economist or the mum and pop corner shop, SME or large corporation who hasn’t yet packed up their headquarters to seek economic refuge from Brexit and moved to Madrid, Lisbon or Dublin whether Brexit has put more money in their wallets. The answer is a resounding N.O.

It has been an economic disaster for the UK. In British politics, the word Brexit has become a biblical byword. A political astonishment and not one UK Politician worth his fish ‘n chips will dare repeat the word on the campaign trail – lest he be lashed by tongue and stone.

Ok, so the PVV has no real economic agenda, nor the wisdom to learn from another’s mistake. However the popularity of Wilders rhetoric and his persistence means that he will most likely be a mainstay in Dutch politics for the near future.

So what does this mean for the Ummah?

We cannot say that this is just a problem for our brothers and sisters in the Netherlands.

Yesterday, I found myself marveling at a ten-year-old boy in Gaza, eloquently, and passionately explaining that through his example, and the example of other Palestinians, that their steadfastness and patience and courage under the boot of a brutal occupation has defended the honour and dignity of the muslim nation.

Correct.

Isn’t it time that we come together, as a great muslim nation, MNATION, to defend the honour of our Ummah when it is consistently defamed? On the question of Wilders, this gentleman has built a career denigrating the honour of Allah, and those who love Him. How have we come together as a community to defend the reputation of the King of Heaven?

What might this practically look like in action?

The prosperity of a nation is central to the success of a political party. Wilders has profited in so far that his firebrand rhetoric has delivered a seat to the table of power. But his policies will not bring prosperity, nor keep him in office.

As an Ummah, we have enormous potential for collective bargaining power.

In the case of the Netherlands, let’s take one example and look at what drives its export markets based on data from the 2022 and 2023 fiscal year. Its Top Ten Exports include:

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$147.4 billion (15.7% of total exports)
  2. Machinery including computers: $131.7 billion (14.1%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: $121 billion (12.9%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: $57.4 billion (6.1%)
  5. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $52 billion (5.6%)
  6. Vehicles: $37.8 billion (4%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $28.9 billion (3.1%)
  8. Organic chemicals: $22.3 billion (2.4%)
  9. Other chemical goods: $19.6 billion (2.1%)
  10. Iron, steel: $17 billion (1.8%)

In macroeconomic terms, the Netherlands’ total exported goods represent 72.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2023 ($1.297 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That is 72.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2023 compares to 78.7% for 2022.

The Netherlands relies on several countries for the import of raw materials necessary for the manufacture of the majority of its exported goods. What is the most important raw material to manufacture its products?

Crude Petroleum.

In 2022, Netherlands imported $68.9B in Crude Petroleum, mainly from United States ($11.3B), United Kingdom ($9.89B), Norway ($9.73B), Russia ($9.25B), and Saudi Arabia ($4.65B).

However, in the context of collective bargaining power, Nearly 30 percent of Crude Petroleum imports by the Netherlands in 2022 came from Muslim-majority countries

  1. Saudia Arabia 6.75% USD 4.65 billion
  2. Kazakhstan 6.24% USD 4.3 billion
  3. Iraq 4.96% 3.41 billion
  4. UAE 0.29% 202 million
  5. Azerbaijan 0.089% 61.1 million
  6. Turkiye 0.026% 17.6 million
  7. Nigeria USD 5.51% 3.8 billion
  8. Algeria USD 2.6% 1.63 billion
  9. Libya USD 2.31% 1.59 billion
  10. Chad USD 0.57% 392 million
  11. Tunisia 0.057% 39.2 million
  12. Egypt 0.044% 30 million
  13. Ghana 0.014% 9.9 million
  14. Cote d’Ivoire 0.092% 63.6 million

So please explain, Wilders, just how are Muslims taking jobs from the citizens of the Netherlands?

Of course, this is just one of many examples of how Muslims contribute to the wealth and prosperity of the Netherlands.

As with petroleum products, imports of chips and semiconductors grew strongly. In 2021, imports rose by €2.4 billion to €16.9 billion – an increase of 16.6%. East Asia in particular supplies a substantial share of the chips imported (30.8% of the import value of chips and semiconductors).

Among the top three main chip-producing countries for Dutch imports are China, Malaysia and Costa Rica. Dutch traders subsequently sell many chips as re-exports to customers in other European countries.

Again, our Malaysian brothers and sisters are contributing to the manufacturing sector in the Netherlands.

Let’s look at textiles.

The Netherlands imported clothing worth €15.3 billion. This was €1.5 billion (10.9%) more than in 2019. The main producers of clothing worldwide are China, Bangladesh and Turkiye.

Less than half of Dutch clothing imports stays in the Netherlands, while 68.9% (in 2020) is sent as re-exports to other countries, especially in Europe. The Netherlands imported most clothing from Germany in 2021.

A big shout out to our Bangaldeshi and Turkish brothers and sisters for putting the clothes on the backs of the citizens of the Netherlands.

But let’s not just focus on the manufacturing sector.

The Netherlands has other trade relationships with several Muslim-majority countries.

The UAE is the Netherlands’ largest trading partner in the region. In the first half of 2023, bilateral non-oil trade rose by 20.4 percent increase on the same period in 2022. About 350 Dutch companies are operating in the UAE.

How many Dutch jobs does 350 companies add up to Wilders?

Then there are the major infrastructure and logistics projects that Muslim countries are collaborating with the Netherlands on multi-billion dollar projects in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, and Qatar.

The Netherlands has a long history of trade with Iran, although this has been affected by international sanctions in recent years.

The Netherlands and Kuwait have a strong trade relationship too, with Dutch companies active in various sectors.

Let’s not get started with the actual contributions of Muslims of Indonesian, Morrocan and Turkish origins who have lived and contribute to the Netherlands since the seventeenth century.

This leads us to a natural conclusion. Muslims have, and continue to be, nothing but prosperous friends of the citizens of the Netherlands. It was no doubt made very clear to Wilders by actual, real fellow statemen who understand statecraft and the interconnectedness of the world economy. So if Wilders wants to rely on the old ‘conforming to the constitution’ chestnut for his disingenuous softening against Islam, we are a graceful people, and are happy for him to save face. But we know the truth.

Our Ummah has enormous market power collectively. How we spend, where we spend, and who we partner with, makes a substantial difference to the money in peoples’ wallets – and ultimately, the ballot box – and the politicians who understand that the pivot to the Global South is a reality that is here to stay are the ones who genuinely care about the long-term prosperity of their nation.

We pray that good leadership prevails for the people of the Netherlands, inshallah.

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