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Europe headed for "religion wars" despite Wilders' stumble, Turkish minister says
March 16, 2017 / 10:05 AM / 9 months ago

Europe headed for "religion wars" despite Wilders' stumble, Turkish minister says

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s foreign minister said on Thursday Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders’ views were shared by all rival parties and were pushing Europe towards “wars of religion”, irrespective of his failure to win Dutch elections.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu addresses supporters during a political rally on Turkey's upcoming referendum, in Metz, France, March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Dutch centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte fended off the challenge of Wilders to score an election victory hailed across Europe by governments facing a rising wave of nationalism.

However, the reaction in Ankara - which has been locked in a deepening row with the Netherlands after the Dutch barred Turkish ministers from speaking to rallies of overseas Turks - was less sanguine.

“Many parties have received a similar share of votes. Seventeen percent, 20 percent, there are lots of parties like this, but they are all the same,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a rally in the southern city of Antalya.

“There is no difference between the mindsets of Geert Wilders and social democrats in the Netherlands. They all have the same mindset...That mindset is taking Europe to the cliff. Soon wars of religion may and will start in Europe.”

Turkey on Monday suspended high-level relations with the Netherlands after it cited public safety in banning ministers from addressing expatriate Turks in a campaign for a referendum that would give President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers.

Erdogan, who is counting on the backing of overseas Turks in the April 16 vote, accused the Dutch government of acting like “Nazi remnants”.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by David Dolan and Ralph Boulton

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