An appearance by Islam critic Geert Wilders has caused several elected officials to opt out of the annual Folkemødet political soiree on Bornholm.
Claus Bakke, a Venstre city councillor from Zealand who is running for Parliament this summer, is one of the politicians who will be staying home this year.
“I think that Geert Wilders and his extreme views represent a large security risk that will completely ruin my experience and the benefits of attending Folkemødet,” said Bakke.
Massive police presence expected
Vordingborg mayor Knud Larsen expressed concern over the cost the extra police presence required by Wilders’ presence will require.
“We will be paying tribute to democracy while we pay the police a lot of overtime,” Larsen told DR Nyheder. “Of course I believe in free speech, but why should we allow a Dutch politician to increase the risk when we can easily discuss democracy anyway.”
Folkemødet founder Bertel Haarder disagrees. He said on his Facebook page that “we must show we are not afraid” and that Wilders will bring many more people to the meeting.
Bornholm mayor Winni Grosbøll is annoyed by those who say they will give Folkemødet a pass if Wilders shows up.
“I think it would be a shame if you don’t come because Geert Wilders speaks for one hour out of a four-day meeting,” Grosbøll said.
Grosbøl said she would not ask Wilders to stay away.
“Folkemødet is essentially a reflection of Danish society,” she said “Danish society has changed. If you go to Copenhagen, there are more police on the street – now it’s Folkemødet’s turn.”
Wilders was the target of a terrorist attack in Dallas a few weeks ago.