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Saudi to ban Dutch firms: decree - Decision tied to Islam ‘insult’

RIYADH, May 17, (AFP): 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 Makkah 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 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 visits by trade delegations between the two countries. In November, anti-Islamic lawmaker Geert Wilders printed stickers imitating the Saudi flag.

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. 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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