Dutch populist Wilders calls for ban on Koran

Amsterdam, Netherlands - Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders has called for the Koran to be banned in the Netherlands, branding it a "fascist book" in the vein of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" which legitimises violence.

Writing in Dutch daily De Volkskrant on Wednesday Wilders said: "Ban this wretched book just like Mein Kampf is banned. Send a signal ... to Islamists that the Koran can never, ever be used in our country as an excuse or inspiration for violence."

Hitler's Mein Kampf, published in 1925, outlines the future Nazi dictator's racist ideology. It has been banned from sale in the Netherlands since the end of World War Two.

The Dutch government swiftly condemned Wilders’ remarks as damaging for community relations in the Netherlands, and said the proposal was unworthy of consideration.

“It has to be perfectly clear that banning the Holy Quran in the Netherlands is not up for discussion for this government and will not be up for dicussion in future. We have freedom of religion here,” Integration Minister Ella Vogelaar said in a statement.

Vogelaar described Wilders’ call as “an insult to the majority of Muslims in the Netherlands and abroad who reject calls to hate and violence.”

Ayhan Tonca, chairman of the CMO umbrella group of Dutch Muslim organisations said Wilders' comments were best ignored.

"This is typical Wilders. This is a ridiculous idea," he said "There is not much news at the moment so he is trying to create some."

Wilders, whose new party won nine seats out of the 150 in parliament in last November's elections, is well known for his firebrand remarks on Islam.

He has warned of a "tsunami of Islamisation" in a country home to 1 million Muslims, and has lived under heavy protection since receiving death threats from Islamist militants in 2004.

Wilders said an attack over the weekend by two Moroccans and a Somali on a young Iranian-born politician who heads a Dutch group for "ex-Muslims" had spurred him to write.

The attack on Ehsan Jami, 22, caused an outcry in the Netherlands, where the November 2004 murder of Theo Van Gogh, a filmmaker critical of Islam, by a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim militant led to an anti-Muslim backlash and exposed social tensions.

Issues of immigration and integration no longer top the political agenda, despite the efforts of Wilders and his allies.

"Allah sees the death penalty as fitting for those who no longer believe," Wilders wrote on Wednesday, adding this view had fuelled the attack on Jami, now under police protection.

The Muslim holy book should be banned from sale, from use in mosques and private households, Wilders added.

Earlier this year, Wilders called for a vote of no-confidence in two Muslim government ministers, questioning their loyalty to the country because of their dual nationality.

He has also campaigned to ban Muslim face veils, ban the building of new mosques and halt all Muslim immigration.

In April, Wilders was warned by the Dutch anti-terrorism chief that his anti-Islam statements had stoked anger in the Middle East, and that he was going too far.