This stance has made Wilders a target for Muslim radicals. Death threats regularly arrive at his office, so seeing him sitting in a leather chair without armed guards, even behind so many checkpoints, is a bit unsettling. When I ask him how he’s doing, he raises his eyebrows and answers: “Surviving.”
It’s an understandable response for a guy who has spent the better part of a decade wearing a bulletproof vest and being shuttled between safe houses to avoid assassination. “I’m not in prison,” he says. “But I’m not free, either. You don’t have to pity me, but I haven’t had personal freedom now for 10 years. I can’t set one foot out of my house or anywhere in the world without security.”
Wilders’s name is on the same Al-Qaeda hit list as Stéphane Charbonnier, an editor who was shot and killed during the jihadist assault on Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, that left 12 dead earlier this month. The massacre, along with the subsequent killings at a kosher supermarket in Paris, was a tragic day for the France. But for Wilders, it only added to his appeal. Since the attack, his Freedom Party has surged in national polls. It was already the most popular party in Holland, but if the 2016 parliamentary elections were held today, he’d pick up 31 seats out of 150, more than double his current figure.
If he found the right coalition partner, Wilders could even become Holland’s prime minister, a once unthinkable prospect. Ten years ago, his proposal to ban the construction of new mosques in the Netherlands was mostly seen as the ravings of a fearmongering extremist who compares the Koran to Mein Kampf. Now reporters call Wilders a “populist,” and they no longer dismiss his xenophobic rants as rubbish.
His consolidation of power here isn’t a foregone conclusion, but Wilders’s growing popularity in Holland is emblematic of a larger trend: Europeans are becoming increasingly hostile to both native-born Muslims and the recent wave of immigrants flooding across their borders. Islamophobes are burning mosques in Sweden, marching by the tens of thousands in Germany and ceding more and more control to those politicians who speak the loudest against the Muslim faith.
Dat van die Zweedse moskeeën is onbewezen, net zoals de meeste “aanvallen” op moslims en moskeeën (Fub).