Broward News

Love to Hate: Right-Wing Visitor to South Florida Wins Big in Europe

Maybe there's method in the seeming madness of Adam Hasner's right-wing associations. The House majority leader from Boca Raton sparked controversy in late April when he took a break from the state budget to make public appearances with anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Based on exit polls from elections yesterday in the Netherlands, Wilders' Freedom Party won 15 percent of votes, meaning it stands to get four seats of the 25 that nation sends to the European Parliament.

Wilders and cohorts are fierce critics of the European Union. The global economic slump has made a valuable recruiting tool.

Still, Europe's move to the right and the rising international profile of a politician like Wilders (who has talked of deporting Muslims or at least stripping them of their freedom to practice the religion) clashes with the empathetic tone President Obama has struck during his visit this week to the Arab world.

Then again, there's increasing tension between Obama's administration and the Jewish American community that favors hard-line policies toward Palestinians. Hasner, who is Jewish, has demonstrated his distrust of Muslim groups, and politically he may be betting he can appeal to Jews and conservatives upset over Obama's policies.

It may have looked like a strategy for staking out his differences with Congressman Ron Klein in advance of the 2010 election, when Hasner is termed-out of his state seat, but Hasner has said he's not running for any office next year. Still, there's talk he'll make a bid for Florida attorney general.

As for how exactly his views on Islam overlap with those of Wilders', Hasner has yet to respond to this open letter.

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Thomas Francis