Freedom Party outrage at lunch with Gül

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The anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) in the southern province of Limburg has slammed its own provincial representatives Antoine Janssen and Theo Krebber because they have agreed to attend a lunch with Turkish President Abdullah Gül, who is currently on a visit to the Netherlands.

The two provincial councillors will be attending the event in Limburg on Thursday “irrespective of the consequences”, said Mr Krebber. “I’m a member of the provincial executive. That means you have your responsibilities.”

“After everything Mr Gül has said about the Freedom Party and Geert Wilders, the presence of our representatives is incomprehensible,” said Laurence Stassen, chair of the provincial party in the Limburg legislature. Limburg is Geert Wilder’s home province and a Freedom Party stronghold.

The Turkish president described Mr Wilders as an Islamophobe in an interview with popular daily De Telegraaf. He said the Freedom Party leader expressed extremist views that fostered radicalism.

'Cabinet taken hostage'
In the run-up to Mr Gül’s visit, Mr Wilders tweeted, “Turkish humour: Christian baiter, Kurd basher, Hamas friend and Islamist Gül complains about tolerance.” Freedom Party MP Wim Kortenoeven referred to the Turkish president as “Sultan Gül, the man from Constantinople”.

Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal described the Freedom Party attitude as “not very pleasant and not very welcoming towards a friendly head of state”. Opposition parties say the foreign minister’s mild response to Freedom Party attacks on Mr Gül has been inadequate. “The cabinet is being taken hostage by Wilders,” commented Labour Party MP Frans Timmermans.

Mr Gül received a warm welcome to the Netherlands from Queen Beatrix on Tuesday. She praised Turkey as “an inspiration and an example”.

(mb/imm)
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Photo composite: Abdullah Gül (Wikimedia) and Geert Wilders (ANP)