Curbs slapped on Dutch firms

Dutch far-right Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders speaks near a Dutch flag as he stands next to Marcel de Graaff (L), the leading PVV candidate for the European elections, during a demonstration in front of the EU Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday. (Reuters/Francois Lenoir)

Dutch far-right Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders speaks near a Dutch flag as he stands next to Marcel de Graaff (L), the leading PVV candidate for the European elections, during a demonstration in front of the EU Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday. (Reuters/Francois Lenoir)

Saudi Arabia has started imposing sanctions on Dutch companies after the Netherlands failed to take action against a right-wing politician for abusing Islam and the Kingdom, a Foreign Ministry source said on Tuesday.

“Religion is the red line which nobody will be allowed to cross,” the source said, adding that Riyadh’s action was aimed at putting an end to such irresponsible behavior.

“Saudi Arabia is a leading country in the Islamic world. Muslims in Holland and other parts of the world have supported the Kingdom’s action,” the source said and hoped the Netherlands would pass a law to combat abuse of religions.

The Dutch government has reportedly distanced itself from Wilders’ actions, pointing out that the populist firebrand is not part of, or representative of it. Wilders previously compared the Qur’an to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. He also blamed Saudi Arabia for terrorist attacks around the globe.

Earlier, an official of the Dutch Embassy in Riyadh said The Hague is sending an envoy to the Kingdom this week for high-level talks as part of all-out efforts to improve relations.

Maurice Pourchez, first secretary for economic and cultural affairs at the embassy, said that Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans had told the country’s official television outlet that he would send the executive director for political affairs to the Kingdom.

“Timmermans has also expressed his desire to visit Saudi Arabia shortly to strengthen relations,” said the official, noting that trade between Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands stands at 6 billion euros (about SR31 billion) with Saudi exports to the country reaching nearly SR20 billion.

Pourchez said the embassy has not received any official information about Saudi Arabia’s decision to slash trade ties.

The Council of Saudi Chambers had said that it had received an order from the Saudi government banning Dutch firms from taking part in future projects in the Kingdom, directly and through subcontracting.

About 30 Dutch companies operate in Saudi Arabia and there are many in the Netherlands that have trade relations with the Kingdom.

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