Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders, the controversial leader and founder of the Freedom Party (PVV), has called for the immediate closure of all Muslim schools in the Netherlands in an article published Tuesday. The move was necessary “to protect children against the ongoing spreading of Islam,” Wilders wrote on Dutch news websitem, Nieuwsnieuws. “We have too much Islam in the Netherlands. Islam is effectively more a violent political ideology than a religion,” he wrote. During the 2006 elections, Wilders’ PVV surprised everyone by gaining nine seats in the 175-seat Dutch parliament. Wilders had been an MP for several years – first for the Liberal-right VVD party and then as an independent member. Last year was the first time he contested the elections with his own party. Yassin Hartog, interim director of the ISBO, the umbrella organization of Muslim schools in the Netherlands, considers Wilders’ words to be a “provocation.” “I don’t think there is much reason for another controversy about Muslim schools in Holland. Muslim education in Holland is well-rooted in the national school system,” Hartog said. Holland is known for its uniquely broad range of schools and educational systems. Public schools are fully funded by the government, and special schools receive substantial government funding. Some 40 per cent of Dutch schools are public. The remaining 60 percent are special schools, some of which are based on specific educational systems such as Montessori, while others are based upon a religious denomination. In the last 15 years a few dozen Muslim schools have been established, predominantly elementary schools. In recent months, however, several Muslim schools made the Dutch headlines after school inspections found they did not meet the minimum educational standards, especially for the Dutch language and integration into Dutch society.
The Saudi ambassador to the Netherlands, Waleed al-Khareejy, has demanded that a Dutch anti-immigration politician apologise and retract his recent attack on Islam and the Koran. The demand, made informally, was immediately rejected by Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV).