Hundreds of right-wing demonstrators crowded a main square at Rotterdam's central station Saturday to protest what they describe as the "discrimination against ordinary Dutch citizens" in favor of immigrants and Muslims.
The protest by around 700 right-wing supporters comes as Dutch political parties gear up for local government elections in March, with issues such as immigration and integration again expected to feature prominently among its 13 million illegible voters.
"The Netherlands is our country, it's not (Prime Minister) Mark Rutte's country," Islamophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who led the demonstration, told the protesters.
"We live here, not in Morocco, we don't live in Turkey or in Saudi Arabia, but in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands," said Wilders.
Many protesters on Saturday waved Dutch flags and carried placards saying "Stop the Islamization of Europe" and "Keep the Dutch culture, traditions, norms and values!"
Police — who were out in force — formed a line between right-wing demonstrators and a handful of anti-demonstrators led by two MPs of the leftist Denk Party, which draws its support mainly from Turkish and Moroccan communities.
"This (Wilders' message) is a message of hatred and division and we're against it. We have a message of unity and solidary," Denk leader Tunahan Kuzu told AFP.
Wilders's PVV will compete in around 30 of the 335 local governments in the March 21 vote, with the party battling to find candidates to represent it in other local constituencies.