Immigration

‘Act normal or go away’ Dutch PM tells immigrants

Dutch Prime Minister Rutte. Source: Getty Images

The Prime Minister's statement comes weeks ahead of national elections which show his party is behind in the polls against the far-right Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders.

Centre-right Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has sent a message to immigrants weeks ahead of national elections: “Act normal or go away".

The Prime Minister issued the warning in a letter posted to his party’s website and published in several newspapers.  

“We feel a growing discomfort when people abuse our freedom here and spoil things – when they come to our country for exactly that freedom,” the Prime Minister wrote.

Mr Rutte listed a range of anti-social behaviours – from harassing LGBT+ people to jeering women in short skirts – branding them “not normal” in the letter.

But the answer, he said, was not lumping groups together or expelling them, but standing up for Dutch values.

“We must continue to make clear what is normal and what is not normal in this country. We will have to actively defend our values.”

People shouldn’t label ‘ordinary Dutch people’ as racists for defending their values, the Prime Minister said.

“If you so fundamentally reject our country, I prefer you leave.”

Mr Rutte’s centre-right party, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, is behind in the polls against firebrand far-right leader Geert Wilders.

Mr Wilders slammed Mr Rutte’s letter as disingenuous on Twitter.

“Mark Rutte, the man of the open borders, asylum tsunami, mass immigration, Islamisation, the lies and deceit,” he said.

Prime Minister Rutte has been struggling to contain rising anti-immigration and anti-EU sentiment in the proudly tolerant and liberal country.

In a follow-up interview the Prime Minister weighed in on a national debate over a bus company which had refused to hire a man who said shaking hands with women was against his religion.

“The standard here is you shake each other’s hands,” Mr Rutte told Algemeen Dagblad.

Polls show Mr Wilders’ Freedom Party is currently the most popular in the country, but it remains to be seen whether the politician can pull together a coalition and form government in a parliament traditionally dominated by minority parties.

The Dutch vote will be the first in what's been branded a 'super election year' for Europe, with polls to be held in France and Germany in the following months. 

Far-right parties in all three countries have seen a surge in popularity. 

The Dutch elections will be held on March 15.