AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders was referred to prosecutors on Thursday after making anti-Moroccan remarks at a campaign rally.
Wilders, whose hard-right, euro-skeptic Freedom Party (PVV) leads opinion polls before municipal elections next week, told supporters in The Hague he wanted fewer Moroccans there.
The PVV is competing in two municipalities in the March 19 poll, The Hague and Almere. It is expected to emerge on top in the Netherlands in elections for the European Parliament in May.
The most recent opinion poll, published last weekend, indicated the PVV would be the single largest party in the Dutch parliament if national elections were held now.
Wilders told supporters on Wednesday they should vote “for a city with fewer problems, and if it’s at all possible, a few fewer Moroccans”, according to the ANP news agency.
A public anti-discrimination watchdog said it had received three complaints and passed them on to public prosecutors. The prosecutors confirmed they would consider the matter.
In a later interview with broadcaster RTL Z, Wilders said “Moroccan scum” should leave the Netherlands, and that Moroccans were over-represented in crime statistics and in the number of people receiving social benefit.
Wilders has a history of statements that upset Muslims and Eastern European migrant workers. He was prosecuted for hate crimes and discrimination for calling Islam a fascist ideology in 2007 and was acquitted in June 2011.
The Netherlands, which long prided itself on its liberalism, admitted millions of immigrant workers from Morocco and Turkey to fill jobs in an expanding economy after World War Two.
But attitudes have hardened as growth has slowed and jobs have become scarce, propelling a string of anti-immigration politicians to the top of opinion polls over the past decade.
Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Alistair Lyon