Controversial Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders calls Moroccans 'scum'
Controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders launched a vindictive attack on the country's Moroccan population on Saturday, referring to them as "scum" as he started his campaign for parliamentary elections next month.
He called on members of the public to vote for his Freedom Party if they wanted to "regain your country".
"The Moroccan scum in Holland... once again not all are scum... but there is a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland who make the streets unsafe, mostly young people... and that should change," said Wilders, as he officially launched his election campaign in Rotterdam, surrounded by a scrum of journalists and accompanied by a police escort.
A small number of protestors held up placards calling Wilders an extremist.
"If you want to regain your country, make the Netherlands for the people of the Netherlands again, then you can only vote for one party."
The right-wing MP and Donald Trump supporter is leading the latest opinion polls to become the Netherlands' next prime minister with elections to appoint all 150 members of the Dutch House of Representatives set to take place on 15 March.
Wilders has vowed to ban the Quran, close down mosques, and has been convicted of discrimination in relation to previous comments regarding Moroccans living in the Netherlands.
Courting controversy, Wilders has attracted followers by playing on the fears of citizens concerned by immigration and jihadi attacks that have taken place in Europe in recent years.
The approach has gained traction and even lead current Prime Minister Rutte to match some of Wilders' anti-immigration rhetoric in an attempt to attract voters to his cause.
Speaking on Saturday Wilders, who has expressed support for French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, said that the Dutch public would defy "elite-fearmongering" and vote him into office.
Although Wilders party leads opinion polls even if he wins he will struggle to establish a government since the majority of major parties have ruled against joining in a coalition with him.
They have described some of his policies and rhetoric as offensive, and even unconstitutional.
Because of the fragmented state of domestic Dutch politics it is likely that a coalition government made up of four or more parties will be formed.
There are around 350,000 Dutch-Morrocans in the Netherlands, around 2 percent of the country’s total population.
A study published by the country’s social affairs ministry on Tuesday found that 40 percent of Turks and Moroccans in the country do not feel they belong or are accepted.
(Agencies contributed to this report)