Riyadh seeks Dutch MP's apology for offensive remarks

Amsterdam, Holland - Saudi Arabia wants an apology from a Dutch politician who said Muslims should "tear out half the Quran" if they wanted to live in his country and has asked the Dutch government to intervene, a Saudi newspaper said yesterday.

The Dutch government, which said it did not agree with the remarks made by populist anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders, confirmed that foreign ministry officials held informal talks last week with the Saudi embassy in The Hague.

"It [the embassy] appealed to the appropriate authorities on the need for Wilders' insulting statements to be withdrawn and an apology given to Muslims," the Saudi newspaper Al Watan reported.

"The embassy has demanded that the Dutch side put an end to such statements and actions."

Wilders said in an interview published last week that Muslims should throw away half their holy book if they wanted to stay in the Netherlands and that he would chase Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) out of the country if he were alive today.


"Our minister is not happy with Wilders' remarks," a Dutch foreign ministry spokesman said.

"It is not the point of view of the Dutch government. Wilders is a parliamentarian, it is his right to express himself," the spokesman added.

Last year, Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Copenhagen over Danish cartoons.

Wilders, who has lived under heavy guard since 2004 when a Dutch-Moroccan killed filmmaker and Islam critic Theo van Gogh, has campaigned to ban the veil, wants to freeze immigration and ban new mosques and religious schools.

The Dutch news agency ANP quoted Wilders as saying yesterday he would not retract his remarks. "I would not dream of taking any of it back," Wilders said.

"Have they gone completely mad? It is scandalous that a country which does not have freedom of speech teaches me a lesson. They must learn that when you are a parliamentarian here, you may say what you want."