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Queen Dismisses Wildersa Headscarf Row

Published: 15/01/2012 01:38:00 PM GMT
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THE HAGUE - The popular Dutch Queen Beatrix has dismissed criticism from far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders after her decision to wear a headscarf during a recent visit to a mosque in United Arab Emirates.

It is really nonsense, the 72-year-old monarch was quoted by reporters with her on a state visit to Oman, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on Thursday, January 12.

The row sparked when Queen Beatrix donned a headscarf over her traditional black hat during her visit to the Great Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Inciting a new row, anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders' far right Party for Freedom (PVV), which backs Prime Minister Mark Rutte's ruling coalition government, posed questions over the issue in the Dutch parliament.

The PVV said it regarded the headscarf as a symbol of female oppression and wanted to know whether Rutte agreed.

In a fiery response, the queen made her comment on the third day of her state visit to Oman, where she also wore a scarf over her hat while visiting a mosque.

Princess Maxima was also seen wearing traditional dress and headscarf during mosque visits with the queen.

The current row is not the first between the far-right party and the popular queen. Last September 2011, Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) unveiled a proposed law to strip Queen Beatrix of all political powers, leaving her with a purely ceremonial role.

The Queen's political influence centers on her role in appointing a senior politician or politicians -- called the informateur and formateur -- to sound out various parties about forming a coalition government in the event elections produce no outright winner.

After the elections in June 2010, the Queen chose a series of informateurs. None were from the Freedom Party.


For the queen, wearing the headscarf during mosque visits was a sign of respect for the religion of Islam and Muslims.

You adjust out of respect for a religion, Queen Beatrix said in comments published by Dutch public broadcaster NOS, AFP reported.

The opinion of the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte was not much different.

Proper respect for dress code should be shown when visiting a place of worship, Rutte agreed in his written answer to the PVV's questions posted online.

Wilders is notorious for his rants against Islam and Muslims.

He has called for banning the Noble Qur'an, describing the Muslim holy book as fascist.

In 2008, the far-right politician released a 15-minute documentary accusing the Qur'an of inciting violence.

Ahead of last year's general elections, Wilders' anti-immigrant party campaigned to "stop the Islamization of the Netherlands", and the building of new mosques.

His party's anti-Islam campaigns, however, have helped it make its biggest gains since Wilders has founded it in 2006.

Wilders' party, the third-largest in parliament, is the minority coalition government's key ally, providing crucial support when the government needs a majority to pass legislation.

Wilders stands out among Dutch politicians because of his mane of bleached-blond hair and was nicknamed "the golden pompadour" in US

diplomatic cables disclosed by WikiLeaks.

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