Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders has vowed never to be silenced on Wednesday, on the last day of his trial on charges of racial discrimination and inciting hatred.
In his televised “closing statement”:
https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9404/wilders-trial-closing-statement, Wilders described the proceedings as politically motivated and a “charade”, saying millions of Dutch people were also being judged.
“I am not a racist and my supporters are not racists either,” he said, calling the case an attack on free speech.
He called the trial “absurd” and “political” because it was “being abused to settle a political score” with an opposition leader who could not be defeated in parliament.
Prosecutors have demanded he be fined 5,000 euros after he led chants at a rally in 2014 calling for fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands.
When he asked supporters whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans, they chanted “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!”. Wilders replied “we’ll take care of that”. His party had just narrowly failed to become the largest group on the city council in The Hague. More than 6,000 people filed complaints to the police.
The politician explained in court that it was a call to carry out the policies of his Freedom Party (PVV) to expel criminals with dual Moroccan nationality, tighten immigration rules and implement an “active voluntary repatriation policy”. He said that more than 40 percent of Dutch people agreed with his call.
Prosecutors argued that the comments were pre-planned, “unnecessarily offensive” and deliberately calculated to incite the crowd, and had targeted a specific group in violation of the Dutch constitution.
The Netherlands has around 400,000 Moroccans who make up about two percent of the population.
Geert Wilders, who was acquitted of an incitement case in 2011, had boycotted the trial at Schipol airport but said earlier this week that he would attend the last day.
His stance against Islam and immigration has been a prominent theme in the national debate ahead of parliamentary elections next March. Support for his party and that of conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte is said to be very close.
In his speech Wilders added that he was part of a growing worldwide movement against the “politically correct doctrines of the elite and their subordinate media”.
A verdict in the trial is due on December 9.
Get a different perspective
Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.