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Wilders hails acquittal as 'a victory for free speech'

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Wilders hails acquittal as 'a victory for free speech'
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The controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders – head of the third largest party in the country’s parliament – has been cleared of inciting racial hatred on screen and on the internet.

Speaking to reporters outside court, Wilders described it as not so much a personal victory, but a triumph for free speech in the Netherlands. Public debate allows for criticism of Islam. he added.

Clearing Wilders of the charges, the court said that, while offensive to Muslims, his views constituted part of a legitimate public debate.

The far-right politician had been on trial since last October. The charges rose from Fitna – the film he made that was highly critical of Islam – and comments he posted on the internet.

The 2008 film portrayed Islam as an inherently violent religion. Provocative comments included comparing the Koran with Hitler’s Mein Kampf and calling for an end to Muslim immigration.