Prosecutors have demanded a total aquittal on all five counts in the case against Geert Wilders in Amsterdam.
Prosecutors defended the leader of the Freedom party’s controversial comments about Islam and Muslims between 2006 and 2008, because he had the right as a politician to make statements about perceived problems in society. “Wilders does not often refer to Muslims, but Islam. Criticism of a religion is not punishable”, said Birgit van Roessel and Paul Velleman. The verdict will be delivered on November the fifth, when the court could still find Wilders guilty despite the prosecutor’s recommendation.
Wilders’ 17-minute film “Fitna” was an attack on Islamic practices such as the veiling of women. He has also attacked Islam for its intolerance to Jews and homosexuals. Some researchers have claimed figures show two-thirds of recent verbal or physical attacks on these groups have been from North African immigrants. The other third has come from extreme right-wing groups.
The Netherland’s new minority government, sworn in yesterday, depends on Wilder’s Freedom Party to get legislation passed in parliament, although Wilders has refused to join the centre-right coalition.
The case was originally brought in 2008, when prosecutors originally declared he had no case to answer. However critics of Wilders forced the case to an appeal the year later, which ordered the trial to go ahead.
Speaking for the National Council of Moroccans
Mohammed Rabbae accused the prosecution of using the trial only to defend its original decision not to pursue charges, adding it did not present any new, convincing arguments.
“If you say ‘We have a problem with Muslims,’ what you are really saying is that we, as white people, have a problem with Muslims. You can’t tell me this is not racism. I can scarcely believe that,” he said.