Emil Smeding, a member of the right wing PVV party in the municipal council of Delfzijl, has stepped down after a Facebook post that appeared to encourage violence against asylum seekers.
Translation by Traci White
In response to an RTV Noord article about a fire at an asylum seekers centre in Ter Apel last week, Smeding wrote on Facebook that the fire could be put out with gasoline. RTV Noord deleted the comment, along with a number of similarly dangerous responses. RTV Drenthe reported that a resident suspected of setting the fire was detained at the Ter Apel facility in Groningen following a second fire on Sunday.
On Thursday, Smeding told RTV Noord that he had not meant any harm in his Facebook remarks. “I didn’t personally attack anyone, and Facebook is such a meaningless medium. I was just reacting to the story about the fire in Ter Apel, and people apparently got worked up about it.”
The Groninger Internet Courant writes Smeding initially claimed that he had not intended to incite violence or encourage discrimination, but ultimately stepped down on Friday morning. Smeding apologised to the party for his inflammatory remarks and conveyed that he regretted making the post on Facebook, followed in short order by a post announcing that he would be stepping down from his position. “In light of the commotion that my Facebook comment has caused, I have decided to resign from the municipal council.”
This is the second instance in recent weeks of a member of the PVV in the north getting himself into trouble through discriminatory social media posts. Tom Kuilder, the former head of the PVV faction in Emmen, was nearly pushed out of the municipal council after retweeting content from Stormfront, a website known for posting white supremacist and neonazi material. Kuilder is still a member but no longer the leader of the municipal council faction of the PVV.