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Dutch politician doubts Muslim ministers' loyalty

In this file photo, 41 year-old Dutch right wing politician Geert Wilders speaks during an interview with Reuters Television inside the Dutch Parliament in The Hague March 3, 2005. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The leader of a Dutch anti-immigration party will call for a vote of no-confidence in two Muslim government ministers next week, citing their dual nationality as the issue, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

Geert Wilders said in an interview with the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad the appointment of Moroccan-born Ahmed Aboutaleb and Turkish-born Nebahat Albayrak as junior ministers was wrong because both could have loyalties toward countries other than the Netherlands.

Wilders, whose Party for Freedom (PVV) party won 9 seats out of 150 in the November election, said he will call for a no-confidence vote when the cabinet discusses its policy plans in parliament.

The new cabinet, formed by Christian Democrats, Labour and the Christian Union and sworn in on Thursday by the Dutch queen, is expected to soften immigration policy, which had been tightened under the previous coalition in response to the rise of the populist Pim Fortuyn in 2002.

Maverick politician Fortuyn broke taboos with his criticism of Muslim immigrants before he was murdered by an animal rights activist.

In Saturday’s interview, Wilders said: “I do not want to live in a country where some day six or seven members of cabinet could be Muslim,” adding that Islamic laws were “barbaric”, referring to four people who were beheaded in Saudi-Arabia this week.

“I want to encourage Muslims to leave the Netherlands voluntarily. The demographic development should become such, that the chance is small that we again have two Muslims in the cabinet.” About 1 million Muslims live in the Netherlands out of a population of 16 million.

Last week Wilders called on Muslims to ditch half the teachings in the Koran and said he would chase Islam’s Prophet Mohammad out of the country if he were alive today. The Iranian embassy called those remarks “spiteful”, while the Saudi Arabian embassy held talks over the comments with Dutch foreign ministry officials.