Far-right Freedom Party (PVV) local councillors in The Hague have demanded an apology from writer Karel Kanits for comparing their party’s leader Geert Wilders to Adolf Hitler.
During Thursday’s Liberation Day festivities Mr Kanits described Mr Wilders as a “bleached Führer” – a reference to the anti-Islam MP’s trademark bleached hair.
“We are firm advocates of free speech,” said Freedom Party councillor Richard de Mos on Sunday. “But this sort of comparison, paid for out of Freedom Party voters’ taxes, is unwarranted. Of all days, on the day we celebrate the defeat of Hitler’s Germany in 1945, The Hague city council programmes a loudmouth who comes with this filthy and lowdown comparison.”
The Freedom Party councillors are demanding that Mr Kanits make a public apology and pay back his engagement fee.
In April, the annual Willem Arondéus lecture was scrapped because historian and writer Thomas von der Dunk planned to compare the rise of the Freedom Party to the rise of Nazism. The lecture is named after an openly gay Dutch World War II liberation hero and is supposed to tackle controversial topics.
The selection committee said the planned lecture was too party political, and Mr Von der Dunk refused to tone down the content. He went on to deliver the address anyway outside the provincial government building.
There were claims that provincial councillors from the ruling VVD and Christian Democrat parties had the lecture banned under pressure from the Freedom Party. The minority coalition relies on the support of Freedom Party MPs in parliament.
At a Liberation Day festival on Thursday, the organisers banned a band from performing a song describing Geert Wilders as the “Mussolini of the Low Countries”.
In addition, Utrecht University capitulated to pressure from the PVV and banned philosopher Rob Riemen from criticising Wilders in a Remembrance Day speech. And earlier this year the PVV bullied a public broadcaster into removing a cartoon that Wilders found offensive. Wilders himself, of course, demands the right to incite hatred against Mulims by comparing the Qur’an to Hitler’s Mein Kampf – but any attempt by his opponents to draw a parallel between Wilders and the Nazis is a “filthy and lowdown comparison” which the PVV insists should be suppressed.