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Saudi 'considering' sanctions over Wilders insult

Dutch populist Geert Wilders talks to foreign journalists based in The Netherlands, a few days after kicking off his European election campaign in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

THE HAGUE: Saudi Arabia is "considering" sanctions against the Netherlands after an anti-Islamic stunt by far-right politician Geert Wilders, the Dutch foreign ministry said on Saturday.

In November, the anti-Islamic lawmaker printed stickers imitating the Saudi flag, replacing its text, which normally reads "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah" with "Islam is a lie, Muhammad a criminal, the Koran is poison".

The Dutch foreign ministry told AFP on Saturday that Saudi Arabia feels "insulted" by Wilders and is considering sanctions.

"We have indications that show that Saudi Arabia is considering commercial measures against the Netherlands," said spokesman Friso Wijnen.

He did not give further details.

The Dutch government distanced itself from Wilders' actions at the time, pointing out that the populist firebrand is not part of the government and his ideas are not representative.

Arab News said on its website that the Saudi authorities had asked that "Dutch businesses no longer be included in local projects" in the country, and to reduce the number of visas issued for Dutch businesspeople.

The website also claimed Riyadh was angry for the lack of action taken against Wilders by the Dutch government.

Saudi authorities could not be immediately reached for comment on the issue.

Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) is expected to make gains in European elections at the end of May, and has allied with other far-right parties across the continent, including France's National Front led by Marine Le Pen.

He has previously compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, and claimed the religion is fascist.

Attempts to prosecute him for his claims have failed. He was acquitted on charges of inciting hatred in 2011, with judges arguing that his comments were directed against a religion rather than an ethnic group.

There was recent outrage after he promised during local elections in March to ensure "fewer Moroccans" in the Netherlands.

 

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Summary

Saudi Arabia is "considering" sanctions against the Netherlands after an anti-Islamic stunt by far-right politician Geert Wilders, the Dutch foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The Dutch government distanced itself from Wilders' actions at the time, pointing out that the populist firebrand is not part of the government and his ideas are not representative.

The website also claimed Riyadh was angry for the lack of action taken against Wilders by the Dutch government.

Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) is expected to make gains in European elections at the end of May, and has allied with other far-right parties across the continent, including France's National Front led by Marine Le Pen.


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