The Dutch vice prime minister leaves politics due to the death threats she receives | International

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The Dutch Deputy Prime Minister and responsible for Finance, Sigrid Kaag (61 years old), leaves politics. She does it, as she has declared this Thursday, because the death threats she receives have taken a toll on her family. "My work puts my family to the test and takes its toll on them," admitted the leader of the left-liberal formation D66, who had been considering her future for several months. “I don't want to ask you to go through this again. They are my base, ”said Kaag, referring to the early elections to be held in November after the resignation last week of the government headed by Mark Rutte, who is also retiring.

The D66 leader burst onto the political scene in the Netherlands in 2017 as a rising star who was predicted the ability to become head of government. However, she has since lost strength, partly due to the somewhat distant image she projects. Kaag assumed that she had to win over her compatriots, who considered her a stranger. What she did not expect from her are the strong security measures that have accompanied her due to the threats she receives from her and the hateful messages against her on social media. Her policy will remain in her position until the next election.

Kaag's decision has not surprised, but it has generated a stir among his colleagues and political rivals due to the tension and social polarization that the harassment reflects. Jan Paternotte, president of D66, has been blunt: “The garbage and threats that Sigrid Kaag has had to endure harm our democracy. We will never accept it ”, he has written on his Twitter account. Mark Rutte, outgoing prime minister who forced the fall of the government last Friday due to the cut in family reunification of war refugees, has praised "the courage" of his colleague and his "good collaboration and seamless commitment" with the country. But he has also considered that Kaag "has had to pay a very high price in his private life."

The rest of his colleagues, inside and outside the opposition, have unanimously condemned an intimidation that has shaken the foundations of the Kaag family. The far-right leader Geert Wilders, who has called her a "witch" on several occasions in the framework of her speeches, has recalled that he continues forward despite experiencing similar situations. Wilders has been under protection for two decades due to his outright rejection of Islam. The security of Rutte and that of the crown princess, Amalia of Orange, has also been reinforced, in her case, by threats from organized crime.

The resigning deputy prime minister is married to the Palestinian Anis al-Qaq, a dentist by profession who worked in the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation of the Palestinian Authority. They have four children between the ages of 18 and 25. In January 2022, a man carrying a burning torch stood in front of the family's home shouting slogans against him while broadcasting his action live on the internet. The suspect was arrested and sentenced to five months in prison. A restraining order was also imposed on him, but the Dutch media report that he has been seen near the Congress building in The Hague.

The effect of that incident was made clear on May 28, when Kaag ended up crying during a television program after her two daughters said they were worried for her safety. They feared that the political leader would end up "like Els Borst", they affirmed in reference to the Minister of Health assassinated in 2014 by a man with mental problems.

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In the case of Kaag there has been racism and also misogyny. Born in the city of Rijswijk, about six kilometers from The Hague, where she now resides, her diplomatic work has taken her to countries such as Lebanon, Sudan and Syria. She has worked for the United Nations in relevant positions related to refugees, migration and development, and coordinated the joint mission of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), aimed at eliminating the Syrian chemical arsenal. Her service record has been ignored by her Dutch compatriots, some of whom see her as someone from outside (she returned from abroad in 2017), whose dark-skinned family has also raised abroad. In an interview with this newspaper last June in Madrid, Kaag stated about her situation: “We live in a highly polarized political climate, kidnapped by radical right-wing extremist groups. It is a threat to democracy that we must take very seriously.”

According to a study carried out in 2021 by the University of Utrecht and the magazine De Groene AmsterdammerKaag is the deputy that receives the most hate messages in the Dutch Congress: an average of 22% compared to 10% that reaches her female colleagues.

This Thursday, in his farewell, Kaag wished that his decision "does not discourage Dutch girls and women from entering politics, which must be a team effort."

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