“Geert Wilders defends himself against criticism prompted by Norway attacks,” headlines NRC Handelsblad. The daily reports on a statement issued by the leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) in which he declares that “the PVV was profoundly shocked by the brutal death of dozens of innocent Norwegian citizens,” caused by “a psychopath who violently abused the war against Islamisation.” Drawing a line between the gunman and his party, he adds: “First and foremost, we are democrats. The PVV has never called for violence, and it never will.”
According to the Dutch daily, Wilders is responding to criticism of the role of the PVV in the massacre perpetrated by Anders Breivik, whose manifesto speaks of his great admiration for the populist Dutch political party. Several commentators have demanded that Wilders, who generally prefers to avoid interviews and public debate, express himself more clearly on his war against Islam. For example a NRC columnist recently wrote, “Wilders should directly answer these questions. And the members of the PVV should be expected to ask themselves about their role in this affair.”
Debate on the issue is not restricted to the Netherlands. “Populist and anti-Islamic parties are on the defensive everywhere in Europe," notes De Standaard, in Brussels, which cites responses from the French Front National and Austria’s FPÖ.
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