Dutch town lets its blond hair down for race row politician Wilders
Bouffant blond wigs have sold out in Venlo, a town in the Deep South of the Netherlands.
They represent the trademark bleached hairdo of Geert Wilders, Venlo’s most famous son and leader of the far-right Freedom Party which promises to ban mosque-building and the Koran and end Muslim immigration.
Mr Wilders is now involved in coalition talks after winning 24 seats in the 150-member Dutch parliament in this week’s election. Some commentators believe he could join a cabinet led by the right-wing liberals who topped the poll with 31 MPs.
In Venlo — in Limburg province, on the German border — one in four voters backed the man whose extravagant appearance has earned him the nickname “Mozart”.
Elian Van Ewijk, 35, the owner of a party gear shop, kept the last of the €6.95 (£6) hairpieces for himself.
“I do not like his ideas about Islam but I like what he says about keeping the retirement age and improving healthcare,” he said.
“When I am going to a Muslim country I have to behave like the people there. These people have to do things like us when they come here.”
It is a view widely shared in Venlo, where about a quarter of the citizens originated from abroad. The Netherlands is home to three million immigrants in a population of 16.5 million, up to a million of whom are Muslim.
Chretien, a 58-year-old supermarket worker, said: “Wilders talks directly to people here. The problem is the criminal element of the young Moroccans. In the evening they hang around causing problems.”
In the upper middle-class suburb of Venlo where Mr Wilders grew up, the houses have well-kept gardens and there are few of the immigrants who come to help with the fruit and vegetable harvest. But a mile away, Mr Wilders is given unlikely support at the Alhouda mosque
“We do not have any fear of Wilders because he is full of empty promises that he cannot deliver,” said Mustapha El Belhouan, 60, during a break from Friday prayers. “I hope he gets into government because in my view his party will fail.”