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Geert Wilders, ‘Anti-Islamic’ Dutch Politican, Acquitted Of Hate Speech

23 June 2011 General 8 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

By Gilbert Kreijger and Aaron Gray-Block

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders was acquitted of inciting hatred of Muslims in a court ruling on Thursday that may strengthen his political influence and exacerbate tensions over immigration policy.

The case was seen by some as a test of free speech in a country which has a long tradition of tolerance and blunt talk, but where opposition to immigration, particularly from Muslim or predominantly Muslim countries, is on the rise.

Instantly recognizable by his mane of dyed blond hair, Wilders, 47, is one of the most outspoken critics of Islam and immigration in the Netherlands.

His Freedom Party is now the third-largest in parliament, a measure of support for its anti-immigrant stance, and is the minority government’s chief ally. But many of Wilders’ comments — such as likening Islam to Nazism — are socially divisive.

The presiding judge said Wilders’ remarks were sometimes “hurtful,” “shocking” or “offensive,” but that they were made in the context of a public debate about Muslim integration and multi-culturalism, and therefore not a criminal act.

“I am extremely pleased and happy,” Wilders told reporters after the ruling. “This is not so much a win for myself, but a victory for freedom of speech. Fortunately you can criticize Islam and not be gagged in public debate.”

The ruling could embolden Wilders further. He has already won concessions from the government on cutting immigration and introducing a ban on Muslim face veils and burqas.

“This means that his political views are condoned by law, his political rhetoric has been legalized,” said Andre Krouwel, a political scientist at Amsterdam’s Free University.

“This has made him stronger politically. He is needed for a political majority, he is basically vice prime minister without even being in the government.”

Some Dutch citizens have started to question their country’s traditionally generous immigration and aid policies, worried by the deteriorating economic climate, higher unemployment, incidence of ethnic crime and signs that Muslim immigrants have not fully integrated into Dutch society.

Similar concerns have helped far-right parties to gain traction elsewhere in Europe, from France to Scandinavia.

Farid Azarkan of the SMN association of Moroccans in the Netherlands said he feared the acquittal could further split Dutch society and encourage others to repeat Wilders’ comments.

“You see that people feel more and more supported in saying that minorities are good for nothing,” Azarkan said.

“Wilders has said very extreme things about Muslims and Moroccans, so when will it ever stop? Some will feel this as a sort of support for what they feel and as justification.”

Minorities groups said they would now take the case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, arguing the ruling meant the Netherlands had failed to protect ethnic minorities from discrimination.

“The acquittal means that the right of minorities to remain free of hate speech has been breached. We are going to claim our rights at the U.N.,” said Mohamed Rabbae of the National Council for Moroccans.

Wilders, who has received numerous death threats and has to live under 24-hour guard, argued that he was exercising his right to freedom of speech when criticizing Islam.

The Amsterdam court had used a Supreme Court ruling — that an offensive statement about someone’s religion was not a criminal offence — as the basis of its decision, leading to acquittal, the judge said.

Unusually, the prosecution team had also asked for an acquittal, arguing that politicians have the right to comment on problem issues and that Wilders was not trying to foment violence or division.

“I think it is good that he has been acquitted,” said Elsbeth Kalff, an 83-year-old retired sociologist in Amsterdam.

“He has been told that he has been rude and offensive but it is on the border of what the criminal law allows. It is good, the Netherlands is, after all, a tolerant country and we should keep it that way.”

(Editing by Sara Webb and Mark Trevelyan)

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

Original post: Geert Wilders, ‘Anti-Islamic’ Dutch Politican, Acquitted Of Hate Speech

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8 Comments »

  1. If you do or do not like this man, the decision was a good one if your going to protect free speech. To express your viewpoint, if if people do not like it should not be hate speech. To act on that expression or call for others to act on that expression, outside the law, is.

  2. This is a great victory for the West and for freedom of speech.In secular societies no religion or ideology is above questioning, criticism or ridicule.If you do not like what someone says you can ignore them or you can challenge them with free speech of your own. Censorship is not the answer.

  3. While I applaud the victory for free speech, I also lament the implications of this specific instance.

  4. Contrasting news, from the other side.
    Man sentenced to death for blasphemy
    By Nabeel Anwar Dhakku.
    Judge Rana Zahoor Ahmad in Chakwal, Pakistan sentenced a man, 29-year-old Abdul Sattar, to death on Tuesday for committing blasphemy. Mohammad Saeed, of Talagang town, said he had been receiving derogatory text messages and calls from a wrong number for several days. He told police that contents of the messages and conversation of the caller blasphemed Holy Quran, Prophet (PBUH) and Sahabas (companions of the Prophet).

  5. those crazy dutch, do they not know they are a land of immigrants! let the karachi kid in. if he gets upset about a movie writen by a somali apostate and directered by theo van gogh, it’s alright for a beliver of “the one truth, the one true god, the religion of peace, etc, etc…” to put a knife in his chest! if some newspaper publishes cartoons of the prophet, kill the mischief makers, it is divine writ!!!!!

    Book 016, Number 4154:
    ‘Abdullah (b. Mas’ud) reported: Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) stood up and said: By Him besides Whom there is no god but He, the blood of a Muslim who bears the testimony that there is no god but Allah, and I am His Messenger, may be lawfully shed only in case of three persons: the one who abandons Islam, and deserts the community [Ahmad, one of the narrators, is doubtful whether the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) used the word li’l-jama’ah or al-jama’ah), and the married adulterer, and life for life.

    http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/hadith/muslim/016.smt.html

    freedom of religion, tolerance????

    [2.200] So when you have performed your devotions, then laud Allah as you lauded your fathers, rather a greater lauding. But there are some people who say, Our Lord! give us in the world, and they shall have no resting place.
    [2.201] And there are some among them who say: Our Lord! grant us good in this world and good in the hereafter, and save us from the chastisement of the fire.
    [2.202] They shall have (their) portion of what they have earned, and Allah is swift in reckoning.
    [2.203] And laud Allah during the numbered days; then whoever hastens off in two days, there is no blame on him, and whoever remains behind, there is no blame on him, (this is) for him who guards (against evil), and be careful (of your duty) to Allah, and know that you shall be gathered together to Him.
    [2.204] And among men is he whose speech about the life of this world causes you to wonder, and he calls on Allah to witness as to what is in his heart, yet he is the most violent of adversaries.
    [2.205] And when he turn,s back, he runs along in the land that he may cause mischief in it and destroy the tilth and the stock, and Allah does not love mischief-making.
    [2.206] And when it is said to him, guard against (the punish ment of) Allah; pride carries him off to sin, therefore hell is sufficient for him; and certainly it is an evil resting place.
    [2.207] And among men is he who sells himself to seek the pleasure of Allah; and Allah is Affectionate to the servants.

  6. I live in Holland and racism is growing fast because of Wilders hatespeech.. Goverment allow him…. His supporters are hooligans, skinnheads, neo nazi and 1.5.000.000 Dutch… This his how Hitler started… Israel pays him, introduced by pamela geller.. History will repeat if nobody stopps him. I,m scared…. There gonna be a protest against this trial.. they taken this to U.N….

  7. Then the wise should question, what, exactly, is hate speech if they claim Wilder’s speech isn’t?!

    When bigoted elected official are validated (by such bad court decisions) to continue to spew lies against a faith in a private or public forum, their courts are saying it’s ok to do so….because they’re (the LIES) are a part of the debate!! Senseless!! So, I see that truth ISN’T a part of the debate then!

    Strange. I’ll never go to that backwoods country.

  8. He is a phsycopath…a really honest pig..Israel pays him for his actions…

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