AMSTERDAM (AP) — Members of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders' Freedom Party are continuing to quit after he led supporters in chanting that they wanted "Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!" Moroccans in the Netherlands.
The incident Wednesday caused a major outcry and prosecutors — who are weighing whether to charge Wilders with inciting hatred — say they have given up trying to count all the discrimination complaints they have received.
In all, six Freedom party elected officials have resigned since Wednesday, including the head of its delegation in European parliament and two members of its Dutch parliamentary faction. The position of an additional 10 officials in European, national, regional and local posts is uncertain.
The defections present a serious problem for Wilders, who had been leading in national polls before Wednesday's apparent blunder.
Despite his personal popularity, Wilders has had trouble attracting enough qualified candidates to fill the seats his party wins.
A poll by Dutch broadcaster AVRO found that while 64 percent of Dutch people thought his comments were unacceptable, 30 percent agreed with them.
At a news conference in The Hague on Saturday, Wilders repeated his position and said he wouldn't take a word back.
"I told the truth, and I said nothing wrong," he said.
He elaborated on his reasons for wanting "fewer Moroccans," arguing that Moroccan immigrants are more likely than other groups to be convicted of crimes. He said his method for reducing their number would be to revoke passports for dual-nationality Moroccans who are found guilty of violent crimes.
There are around 350,000 Moroccans in the Netherlands, a country of 17 million.
In Amsterdam, around 3,000 people gathered on Museum Square for an anti-discrimination protest.
Protester Mustafa Boras said after Wilders' remarks he no longer feels welcome here.
Many non-Moroccans carried signs saying "we are all Moroccans now."