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Geert Wilders, and the body of the murdered anti-Islamist Theo van Gogh

Wilders found guilty of ‘hate speech’

Dutch politician Geert Wilders was found guilty of "hate speech" and "inciting racial discrimination" because he had inspired a chant by his followers of “fewer, fewer” Moroccans in the Netherlands.

Published: December 9, 2016, 3:06 pm

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    Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said the conviction was punishment enough, therefore the court would not impose a sentence.

    The case had to be heard in the secure court at Schiphol Judicial Complex, near Amsterdam, because Wilders fears for his life after several assassinations of Dutch public figures like Theo van Gogh and Pim Fortijn. Wilders receives death threats almost daily.

    The head of the PVV Freedom Party, was not present at the judgement but his lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops immediately issued a statement after the controversial ruling that Wilders had breached the boundaries of a politician’s freedom of speech.

    Knoops said his client would launch an appeal.

    The case was based on complaints after Wilders led a party rally during a local election campaign in The Hague in March 2014, asking whether there should be “more or fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands.”

    The crowd’s response of “fewer, fewer”, was “clearly organised”, the judge said. “It doesn’t matter that Wilders gave another message afterwards [saying he was referring only to criminal Moroccans and benefits claimants],” said the judge.

    Wilders said, in a statement in English posted on his YouTube channel, “I still cannot believe it, but I have been convicted because I asked a question about Moroccans. The Netherlands has become a sick country. The judge who convicted me [has] restricted the freedom of speech for millions of Dutch. I will never be silent. I am not a racist and neither are my voters.”

    He called it a “kangaroo court”, tweeting about the judges and hearings. He also said earlier that Moroccans were not a race, which made the charges against him ridiculous.

    In court, the judge even admitted there was no question that the case was political, as Wilders had claimed from the outset. The verdict comes just three months before Dutch general elections with Wilders’ PVV currently leading in the polls.

    Abdou Menebhi, one of the complainants, said that he was “satisfied”. He told The Daily Telegraph: “For the first time, Wilders has been condemned for racism and discrimination: half a million people feel the threat of Wilders every day. This gives us trust in the legal process. I hope people who vote for Wilders will listen.”

    It is however not clear why the complainants should have superior rights to Dutch citizens.

    karin@praag.org

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