Nationalist leader accuses Deputy PM of slander for “racism” remark

Thierry Baudet, leader of nationalist party FvD, pressed charges of defamation and slander against Deputy Prime Minister Kasja Ollongren after she accused him of involving race in the political debate last week. 

During a press conference, Baudet denied all allegations of racism, reports. "Racism is judging people on their appearance and origin and we do not do that in any way", he said. "We stand for an open, tolerant, democratic Netherlands where individual qualities are decisive and not race, social class, skin color, sex or sexual orientation." According to the FvD leader, Ollongren is "demonizing a people's representative" with her "slanderous statements". 

Ollongren made the statements in question during a lecture in Nijmegen on Friday. She said that populism threatens the "core values of democracy" and that the FvD goes further in this than the PVV ever did. "The new split off from populism goes further where [PVV leader Geert] Wilders stops. Baudet's party seems to be obsessed with one of the few taboos that I as a progressive liberal attach value to: talking about races in the political debate", Ollongren, Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, said, according to the newspaper. 

She denounced Baudet for not distancing himself from a statement made by Fvd member Yernaz Ramautarsing last week. Yernaz Ramautarsing said that Dutch with dark skin color are less intelligent than other races. This statement resulted in the D66, GroenLinks and PvdA saying they will not work with the FvD after the elections. "So he leaves it unchallenged when his fellow party members openly discriminate on the basis of race." Ollongren said in the lecture.

"Thierry Baudet is of course free to file a declaration", Ollongren responded to the charges against her via a spokesperson, reports. "But it would be more logical for him to start a political debate, which I am open to." The Minister wants to emphasize the importance of Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on any grounds, the spokesperson said. According to Ollongren, this Article is under pressure, partly due to attacks from the populist corner. 

Theo Hiddema, who is acting as Baudet's lawyer, expects that these charges against Ollongren will be handled "with some urgency".