A Dutch court ruled on Friday that prosecutors can pursue anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders over comments in which he led a roomful of supporters in chanting that they wanted “fewer” Moroccans in the Netherlands.
Point of view
Prosecuted for voicing the opinion of millionsFreedom Party leader
“We’ll take care of it,” he told them.
Accused of discrimination and inciting racism for the remarks, televised live in 2014, he will now face trial at the end of the month.
Upholding the hate speech charges, Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis rejected the Freedom Party leader’s objections.
“Just because Mr Wilders has never been prosecuted for his remarks or his party’s views on Moroccans over the last nine years, doesn’t mean he will never be prosecuted for his comments about Moroccans,” Steenhuis told the district court in The Hague.
Geert Wilders’ hate speech trial gets go-ahead from court https://t.co/rPPXuAwMoI— POLITICO Europe (@POLITICOEurope) 14 octobre 2016
Wilders reacted to the court’s decision by tweeting that he was being “prosecuted for voicing the opinion of millions” of people.
Prosecuted for voicing the opinion of millions.— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) 14 octobre 2016
The Netherlands is like Turkey. Displeasing political opinions are being silenced in court. https://t.co/L7mTufM6WL
In 2011, Wilders was acquitted of inciting racial hatred charges for calling for the Koran to be banned and for the deportation of “criminal” Moroccans. Judges said that his remarks, while offensive to some, were within the bounds of legitimate political discourse.
The far-right politician’s next trial comes as his Freedom Party is neck and neck with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s ruling conservative VVD Party in opinion polls.
The next general election in the Netherlands is due in March.