AMSTERDAM - Far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, known for his anti-Islam slurs, has caused a new controversy with a website targeting immigrants from Eastern Europe.
Targeting a selected group of people living in the Netherlands is clearly discriminatory and degrading in its intents and purposes, representatives of ten eastern countries said in a protest letter to the Dutch government and cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
We invite Dutch society and its political leaders to distance themselves from this deplorable initiative.
Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) launched on Wednesday, February 15, a website calling on the public to post complaints about immigrants from Eastern Europe.
"This mass labor immigration causes many problems: nuisance, pollution, labour market competition, and integration and housing problems," said the website.
Respondents can tick yes or no when asked whether they have experienced nuisances such as loud noise, parking, drunkenness, squalor or the loss of jobs to migrant workers from Eastern Europe.
The website has sparked angry reactions, with many Dutch and immigrants filing complains with anti-discrimination officers.
"We call on all citizens of the Netherlands not to follow this intolerance, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said in a statement.
Citizens should instead clearly state on the PVV's website that Europe is a place of freedom."
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, Wilders released a 15-minute documentary accusing the Noble Qur'an of inciting violence.
Ahead of the 2010 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.
European representatives warned that Wilders' website would tarnish the Netherlands' image as a tolerant country.
For decades, the Netherlands and the Dutch society have been perceived in our countries as examples of freedom and tolerance, the letter said.
We believe the Netherlands should uphold this positive image.
The letter warned that the anti-immigrant website would fuel discrimination against immigrants in the Netherlands.
Rather it encourages negative perception of a particular group of EU citizens within the Dutch society - a perception not supported by facts.
Labor immigration has been on the rise in the Netherlands since 2005, more than doubling to about 40,000 people in 2010.
Of those job-seekers, almost 80 percent came from EU member states, particularly Poland, Germany, Bulgaria and Romania, Statistics Netherlands data shows.
Immigrants usually work on farms or construction sites and some Dutch locals have complained because the workers sometimes live together in groups and do not conform to Dutch ways.
It's always easy to blame others, but blame doesn't often solve problems, Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes wrote on her blog.It's ridiculous to think that denouncing others on a website will make Netherlands or EU a better place.