‘Break silence’ around rise of the populist right: foreign trade minister
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‘Break silence’ around rise of the populist right: foreign trade minister

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A speech made by Dutch foreign trade minister Sigrid Kaag (D66) in which she made a plea to ‘break the silence’ around the rise of populist movements has caused a bit of a stir in The Hague, the NRC said on Tuesday.

Kaag, who was invited to make this year’s Abel Herzberg speech, addressed issues such as xenophobia and exclusion and the importance of ‘not reducing people to a single aspect of their being’.

Identity politics can be extremely destructive’, she said. In what the NRC calls an implicit attack on right wing parties PVV and FvD, she criticised ‘the culture of silence when there is a call for a ban on building more mosques’ or talk of ‘a ‘return’ to the sovereign nation state’.

Eduard Nazarski, director of the Dutch division of Amnesty International, former VVD parliamentary chair Frans Weisglas (VVD) and Labour’s Lodewijk Asscher were united in their praise for Kaag and said her speech was ‘splendid’.

The speech even drew some backhanded praise from FvD leader Thierry Baudet, who called it a ‘good literary speech’ although ‘philosophically completely confused’. The NRC says Kaag’s speech both rebukes politicians and addresses the feelings of ‘the silent middle’, those who don’t enter the polarised identity debate but are worried.

She also sounds sincere, the paper writes, because Kaag, who is married to a Palestinian and worked as a United Nations diplomat, knows what she is talking about. ‘I am sometimes regarded as a stranger in my own country because of my marriage and my career,’ she said on an earlier occasion. (DutchNews)

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