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Saudi Arabia to ban Dutch firms over Islam ‘insult’: decree

LiveMint logoLiveMint 17-05-2014 AFP

Riyadh: Saudi companies have been ordered to exclude Dutch firms from future projects over an anti-Islamic stunt by a far-right Dutch politician, in a royal decree made public by the Mecca chamber of commerce.

The decree bans “Dutch firms from taking part in future projects in the kingdom, whether directly or through sub-contracting,” according to a chamber circular seen by AFP on Saturday.

It also reduces to a minimum the number of visas “for Dutch companies and investors who are not part of vital projects in the kingdom”.

And it orders an end to visits by trade delegations between the two countries.

In November, anti-Islamic lawmaker Geert Wilders printed stickers imitating the Saudi flag.

The Arabic text on the flag, which reads “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” was changed to “Islam is a lie, Muhammad a criminal, the Koran is poison.”

The Dutch foreign ministry told AFP earlier Saturday that Saudi Arabia feels “insulted” by Wilders, and spokesman Friso Wijnen said this could entail “commercial measures against the Netherlands”.

The Dutch government distanced itself from Wilders’ actions at the time, pointing out that the populist firebrand is not part of the government and his ideas are not representative.

Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) is expected to make gains in European elections at the end of May, and has allied with other far-right parties across the continent, including France’s National Front led by Marine Le Pen.

Wilders previously compared the Koran with Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and claimed the religion is fascist.

Attempts to prosecute him for his claims have failed. He was acquitted on charges of inciting hatred in 2011, with judges arguing that his comments were directed against a religion rather than an ethnic group.

There was recent outrage after he promised during local elections in March to ensure “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands.

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