The women will need multiple canisters.
The Dutch debate on refugees and asylum seekers has come to this: Firebrand lawmaker Geert Wilders handing out self-defense sprays to women fearful of what he describes as “Islamic testosterone bombs” in the wake of the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne.
Wilders, surrounded by bodyguards and police, visited a market in the largely blue-collar town of Spijkenisse on Saturday to hand out the sprays, which contained red paint. Amid stalls selling vegetables, fish, flowers and bicycle parts, Wilders got a rock-star welcome from dozens of supporters, while a small group of protesters chanted and waved placards including one that read, “Refugees are welcome, racism is not.”
The publicity stunt fits into Wilders’ uncompromising anti-immigrant, anti-Islam rhetoric that has propelled him to the top of Dutch opinion polls, just over a year away from parliamentary elections.
In between shaking hands and posing for selfies with supporters, the Freedom Party leader said that, if elected, he would, “close the borders immediately and have no more asylum seekers. We just cannot afford to have more. The Dutch people in a big majority don’t want it and we cannot afford it and it makes our people and women only more unsafe.”
His message is gaining traction here amid the Europe-wide migrant surge and following attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris last year. It echoes Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States and is similar to other populist, nationalist groups in Europe like Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France.