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Geert Wilders and the Netherlands hit with Saudi Arabia trade sanctions

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On Tuesday, Arab News reported that the Saudi government instructed the Council of Saudi Chambers too immediately ban all Dutch firms from conducting any future business within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The sanctions also cover subcontractors, the Saudi government has decided to reduce the number of visas that are issued to "Dutch companies and investors". The Saudi governments decision to implement the sanctions is widely supported by the Saudis and expats. “I extend my wholehearted support to the Saudi government for taking a quick and decisive decision to end anti-Islam hatred coming from the Netherlands,” said Yousuf Al-Kuwailet, a Saudi columnist and intellectual.

Approximately 30 Dutch companies operate in Saudi Arabia, there are many companies based in the Netherlands that have trade agreements with Saudi companies. Trade between the two countries has an estimated value of $13.5 billion annually.

The headlines in the Dutch media claim that Saudi Arabia still has to make a decision concerning implementing the sanctions. Abu Dhabi news outlet, The National, reported last Saturday that the sanctions have been implemented. The Dutch government claims that they have distanced themselves from Wilders. That seems to be far from the truth. Last month, during a post election speech, Wilders began a anti-Moroccan chant with party supporters. The video of the chant went viral and within no time citizens began filing police reports against Wilders. Approximately five thousand citizens filed police reports. The Dutch Department of Justice is still determining if and how they will prosecute Wilders.

Dijsselbloem failed to mention during his interview that this isn't the first time that Wilders has launched a campaign of hate against the Islam. Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans is trying to conduct damage control by sending the Dutch executive director for political affairs to Saudi Arabia. Timmermans has also stated that plans on visiting the country himself. Their goal is to re-strengthen their political ties.

In 2013, Geert Wilders began distributing a anti-Islamic sticker that clearly resembled the Saudi flag. Wilders had also placed Arabic text on the sticker, which included profanities and directly insulted the Islamic prophet Mohammed. Wilders believes that this is "the [true] core of the Islam. This is the truth, this is what Islam means. This is why I went into politics, this is why I started the PVV [Party of Freedom]". Dutch Minister of Finance, Jeroen Dijsselbloem told RTL Nieuws that, "We don't have to say sorry for a sticker.". Dijsselbloem says that he is disappointed that the Wilders anti-Islam sticker is getting all of this attention.

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