Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has warned immigrants to “be normal or be gone” — adding that people who seek freedom in the Netherlands but “reject our values” should leave.
Rutte made the declarations in newspaper advertisements and interviews in January, The Telegraph reports, as part of appeal to right-wing voters.
He heads the liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy and is facing a strong re-election challenge from Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom.
Dutch citizens vote on March 15. Polls show Wilders leading Rutte, winning 33 seats to 24 in the Netherlands’ 150-seat parliament.
Wilders’ party also has published a one-page mission statement that pledges to close mosques, ban the Koran and close borders to migrants seeking asylum.
Immigration remains a tense issue in the Netherlands, with a spike in numbers at the end of 2015 causing bloody protests over proposals for reception centers for migrants, according to the Telegraph.
Wilders has also slammed Rutte for his attempts to “deceive” Dutch citizens on Twitter: “The man of open borders, asylum tsunami, mass immigration, Islamisation, lies and deceit.”
Rutte’s ad also came under attack from one Wilders supporter, local activist Anita Hendriks, who also took to Twitter: “Not stolen enough yet, Mark?”
Despite Wilders’ popularity, he is not close to winning a majority in Parliament — the Telegraph reports — and other major parties say that they would not form a coalition government with the Party for Freedom.