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Thursday 18 December  
Frits Bolkestein
News Desk's picture
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Wilders' 'mentor' thinks he is exaggerating

Published on : 2 October 2011 - 7:00am | By RNW News Desk (Photo: RNW)
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Twenty years ago, VVD politician Frits Bolkestein said it is impossible for immigrants to integrate while maintaining their cultural identity. Back then, the prominent conservative was severely criticised. Now, Mr Bolkestein is seen as a forerunner of anti-Islam Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders. But the former VVD leader and European Commissioner does not share his ‘successor’s’ views.

by Uhro van der Pluijm and Johan van der Tol

Frits Bolkestein - former leader of the VVD

* MP on and off between 1978 and 1998, leader of the conservative VVD in the last nine years.

* Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs from 1982 until 1986

* Minister of Defence from 1988 until 1989

* European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services from 1999 until 2004

recently published book: The intellectual temptation, dangerous ideas in politics.

The 78-year-old statesman may look a little frail, but he still works full time. In his office overlooking the river Amstel, he reflects on the commotion his comments caused in the early 1990s.

“I mainly objected to the Dutch government’s slogan ‘Integration while keeping your cultural identity’. I thought it was ridiculous: if you integrate, you lose part of your identity. I said immigrants have to conform to the essential values of the Dutch culture."

These values are: freedom of religion, the separation of church and state, freedom of speech and sexual equality. Looking back, the comments were not all that shocking, says the former VVD leader. “Nevertheless, it caused a lot of commotion, but maybe it was necessary.”

Now, former VVD member Geert Wilders is winning votes for his Freedom Party, which he set up in 2006 with extreme views on immigration and Islam. Mr Bolkestein is sometimes called his mentor, but says he does not share his views. “Wilders says things that are just not right and I think he totally exaggerates.”

Mr Bolkestein once suggested in a leaked private conversation that orthodox Jews should consider moving to Israel or the United States, because of the anti-Semitism among Moroccans. Mr Wilders says the opposite; it is the Moroccans that should leave the Netherlands.

Recently, Mr Bolkestein wrote a book about ‘dangerous ideas in politics’. The book explains how rash ideas that have not been tested in practice can lead to chaos, abuses and worse. Nevertheless, Mr Bolkestein does not think Mr Wilders’ ideas have much influence outside his supporters. Mr Wilders provides the current minority government with support in parliament, but does not actually have any executive power. “There is little chance that Moroccans will be deported en masse,” he says resolutely.

Burka ban
Mr Wilders repeatedly claims the Netherlands is in danger of being overrun by a “tsunami of Islamists”. But, says Mr Bolkestein, he is wrong. Birthrates among immigrants are falling fast. For instance, Turkish women are already having fewer children than Dutch women. Mr Bolkestein also stresses that Muslim women are doing well at university, clearly showing they are catching up with their Dutch counterparts.

There are still big problems concerning integration, however, such as the high unemployment and crime rates among immigrant youths as well as anti-Semitism and homophobia.

Mr Bolkestein disagrees with the recent introduction of a burqa ban, an idea championed by Geert Wilders. The Netherlands is the third European country to introduce such a ban after France and Belgium. “A ban makes martyrs of the few burqa wearers there are in the Netherlands. You should avoid that,” he says, knowing all too well that it was his own party that proposed the ban.




maxilo 23 October 2011 - 5:33pm / Luxembourg

Islam can't be tolerated and whether the threat is imminent or middle-term, or whether Wilders exaggerates or not is irrelevant We can't take chances at giving this ideology a shot at imposing some or all of its values in a free country.

David Berridge 4 October 2011 - 1:49am / Canada

Geert can't please everyone all of the time, even those who preceed him. But it just goes to show how orignal he is in running his own party as a one-man show.

PeterNY 3 October 2011 - 8:25pm / USA

Geert Wilders simply formulates what many Dutch people (and Europeans from any country with immigrants with them) truthfully feel. There is no added value from immigration: only problems and consequently the accelerated bankruptcy of the welfare state.

Jamie 3 October 2011 - 9:40am

I think that man is getting senile, because he's come up with some retarded views. Jews should leave Holland ? He's gotta be kidding--it's like Geert Wilders says : boot those Muslim troublemakers over the fence and out of Holland's life. Why do those Dutch politicians have to be be such fussy old women ? I say quit worrying about "doing immigrants wrong " and do whatever it takes to do right by native Dutch residents. If aliens can't integrate THEY ARE A BURDEN AND AN IMPOSITION. Why do they have to quibble about it ? Say what you want to about Wilders -but he's got the best ideas. He's the only one who seems to really be fighting for his country. But you are right ANONYMOUS the press won't miss a chance to throw garbage at him .

user avatar
knirb 3 October 2011 - 9:49am

Well said!

Anonymous 2 October 2011 - 4:50pm

Politicians just talk and talk and talk and their tongues are extremely twisting.Politicians systematically organize hatreds, they practice a blood sport.No Dutch orthodox Jews should leave for Israel or the U.S. or consider doing so;they are Dutch citizens and that for many generations, therefore they have the right to stay in the Netherlands.Stop talking about forced "integration", the Dutch-Indonesians who spoke and wrote better Dutch than many "pure blood" Dutchmen had also to integrate.Stop all that madness, you political fools!

Hiram1 2 October 2011 - 9:31pm

All people of the Jewish faith should leave the Netherlands and Europe. All of those political fools will will turn on you just as they have done for hundreds of years. Your home is Israel. Don't trust any European who tells you otherwise.

user avatar
Awesome Ted 3 October 2011 - 8:42am

And as a non native North American, you should leave the US, right Hiram? What's stopping you?

Hiram1 3 October 2011 - 4:10pm

"And as a non native North American"...Wrong my friend, I am a descendent of North American Indians. I have said this before. You assumed something of which you know nothing about. I know the history of the Europeans and how they have murdered the Jewish people. They have been blaming the Jewish people for hundreds of years for all of their problems. History is repeating itself in Europe. The Europeans have blamed the Jewish people for their problems and they have even went to the point of mass murder. It is not safe for the Jewish people in Europe and they should return to "their" home in Israel or the the U.S. where it is far safer for them to live. Again you know nothing about me. I do know something from your writings. You like looking at your reflection in the pool of water.

user avatar
Awesome Ted 3 October 2011 - 5:17pm

Ha ha. Nice try. As if you hadn't already exposed yourself as a white rednecked southern US citizen. You stated in earlier thread that you were descended from the Dutch, which was why you took an interest in NL culture.
For the sake of argument, let's suppose you weren't lying. If you somehow were part native, wouldn't that mean that you should cross back across the Bering Strait, and eventually return to Africa? That is the cradle of humanity, you know.

Hiram1 3 October 2011 - 6:32pm

"Ha ha. Nice try"...I am also of Dutch and French descent. Do you think those Dutch sailors only wanted a piece of land? No, I am not a southern by birth. As to being a redneck, I am proud of being one. Rednecks don't need to tag themselves as "awesome". We are sure of ourselves and our sexual identity. As to being an American Indian, it was you who assumed something because of what you said I exposed previously. Again, you assumed wrong. One can be an American Indain and also have the genes of other races. I will repeat it again for you "awesome": "Do you think those Dutch sailors only wanted a piece of land?"

user avatar
Awesome Ted 4 October 2011 - 1:15pm

Ok, Mr Sexually Proud Redneck, how about answering my question? Let's assume you're indeed over 50% native American, and are not compelled to return to the land of your Dutch and French ancestors. Why don't you suggest we all return to Africa? Too long ago? What's the statute of limitations on the need to return people to their homelands?
You're talking out of your ass. There is no logical defence to your argument. You are repulsed by non-christians and non-whites and want them all to disappear from countries you claim for white christianity. Any rationale you can find to support this you will use.

Hiram1 4 October 2011 - 2:50pm

"Why don't you suggest we all return to Africa?"...If you want to go to Africa, go. Your last paragraph is your opinion and you are showing your true self. You must have been drunk when you wrote your opinion. Karl Marx once said: "A drunk mans actions is a sober man's thoughts." With you there wil never be a logical argument. Your attack against "white christanity" reflects a desperate person who lacks the ability to have a logical argument. If is it your opinion I am the way you say that I am and you drop to my level, then what do you think it does to your arguement and to you as a person? You lower yourself to the same level. You should stay above the level of your insult, my friend.

user avatar
Awesome Ted 4 October 2011 - 3:02pm

I don't know why you type so much and add so little to the conversation. You are the one who insisted all jewish people should emigrate to Israel. By refusing to debate the topic, you concede the point. You're ridiculous.

Hiram1 5 October 2011 - 6:09am

I told you why they should leave Europe and go to Israel or The U.S. but you lack the knowledge to understand and you blocked your mind. It is a shame that you blocked out what I stated. You can't debate a topic because you are set in your thinking. You lack the mental flexability to see beyound yourself.

Anonymous 2 October 2011 - 7:56am / USA

does this online ''news '' do anything other than put garbage on geert wilders ? biased are we? smh, pfft, liberals

Anonymous 2 October 2011 - 7:56am / USA

does this online ''news '' do anything other than put garbage on geert wilders ? biased are we? smh, pfft, liberals

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