Justice Min. says Wilders dodged her call after his tweet about her heritage
The new justice minister, Dilan Yeşilgöz, still has not received a response from PVV leader Geert Wilders, after she tried to call him about a tweet in which he critically mentioned her Turkish-Kurdish origin. "A VVD member of Turkish descent at Justice. And let's hope she doesn't lift my security detail, because they would of course prefer to see me disappear below the grass," the PVV leader tweeted on December 30.
"I called him the day after," said the new minister after the first Council of Ministers of the Rutte IV Cabinet. "On the night itself, I was still a bit too grumpy," she added. "But I didn't catch him." When Wilders did not answer, she sent him a message via WhatsApp. "But he didn't call back. No response."
The VVD minister understands that Wilders, who has been guarded for years because of threats, was concerned about a "changing of the guard" at the Ministry of Justice and Security. "I understand that emotion; he really doesn't have it easy." Yeşilgöz would have liked to have spoken with him about this.
She wanted to tell him that she did not appreciate the link he made with her heritage. "But I'll leave that up to him."
Security of politicians is a "big concern"
She also called threats and intimidation against ministers and MPs "very violent," saying, "Everyone should be able to say what they want to say freely, and to do their job."
Last week, D66 leader Sigrid Kaag was intimidated at home when a man stood in front of her door with a large flaming torch while shouting at her. Kaag also filed a police report this weekend, after noted conspiracy theorist Willem Engel shared her address on social media.
According to Yeşilgöz, there are different ways in which this should be tackled. Her predecessor, Ferd Grapperhaus, came up with a bill that would make doxing, or the sharing of private data for the purpose of intimidating someone, a criminal offence. Furthermore, there is "a really big task to make clear: This is not normal," she said.
The new ministers of Rutte IV, who were sworn in on Monday, have thought carefully about the threats that Cabinet members often receive. Ministers and MPs who are involved in setting the coronavirus policy have often faced serious threats.
The new Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, Ernst Kuipers, said that "the way in which politicians are treated at all times" worries him. That led him to question whether he wanted the job as minister. He stated, "There was really a moment at home at the kitchen table with the wife and the children to discuss what all this means, and do we want it."
Reporting by ANP.