World Bulletin / News Desk
Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders triggered a row over fake news Monday with a biting Twitter message showing a Photoshopped picture of another party leader surrounded by Muslims.
Some five weeks ahead of key elections in The Netherlands, Wilders posted the fake picture of D66 leader Alexander Pechthold supposedly rallying with Muslims holding up signs reading: "Islam will conquer Europe" and "Shariah for The Netherlands".
Wilders's radical anti-Islam and anti-immigrant platform has helped propel his Freedom Party (PVV) to the top of the opinion polls in recent months ahead of the March 15 vote.
In his tweet he accused Pechthold, who heads the pro-European, pro-democracy, social-liberal D66 party of "demonstrating with Hamas terrorists."
D66 is one of 28 parties contesting the election and is currently trailing fifth in the polls, and Wilders' taunt prompted an angry reaction from Pechthold.
"Usually I laugh at Photoshopped pictures on the internet. But not this time," he wrote on his Facebook page.
"Not because I can't stand up for myself... but because it gives people false impressions."
Last year, Pechthold sued a PVV supporter over photos which sparked death threats against him.
"In these times of fake news and alternative facts, we can't just ignore the consequences that such a fake image can have," he said.
"I draw the line today."
Other politicians also sided with Pechthold. Jesse Klaver, leader of GroenLinks (Green Left), called Wilders' Tweet "low and irresponsible."
"Those who tweet fake news about others, tarnish their own credibility."
And Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher, leader of the Labour party, simply retweeted Wilders tweet with the message "delete your account."
But Wilders hit back against Pechthold on Twitter, saying: "Stop complaining, drama queen. You have demonstrated standing among Palestinian flags, with friends of Hamas. #hypocrite"
The vote in the Netherlands will kick off a year of elections in Europe with ballots also due in both France and Germany. They will be closely watched amid the rise of populist and far-right parties on the continent.
Bissonnette feared Muslims would attack, kill his family
Head of Turkish parliament's Human Rights Committee also called Islamophobia a ‘threat to world peace’
Islamophobia in Europe and the U.S. is being used as a political project by right-wing politicians, says leading scholar
Mehmet Gormez, former head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, also speaks at international conference
‘Islamophobia is no longer is restricted to where there are Muslim minorities’ says Salman Sayyid of the University of Leeds
Imam was attacked after he was on his way back home after leading night prayer at mosque
Mosque belonging to Muslim-Turkish association ATB firebombed in Hessen province
Racist graffiti, swastika symbol have been used to deface walls of Stockholm mosque
Islamophobic hate group had planted crosses on construction site for mosque in eastern Netherlands
Arrests came after women filmed themselves and their children spouting hate speech while breaking into mosque
Islamophobic group planted 23 crosses on mosque site on Saturday
1 day after threat by PYD/PKK sympathizers, Berlin mosque of Turkish community firebombed, latest in string of attacks
At least 950 Muslims and Muslim institutions were attacked in 2017, according to official figures
Report by Citizens' Platform Against Islamophobia says 51 percent of incidents recorded in Catalonia
President Donald Trump's effort to curtail immigration ' unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam', court says