Thursday, June 23, 2011

Geert Wilders Acquitted of Hate Charges in Netherlands

June 23, 2011 - An enormous victory for free speech was won in the Netherlands (Holland) on June 22, 2011. Dutch politician Geert Wilders has been fighting charges of "inciting hatred" by speaking out against sharia law and other Islamic practices. Wilders' Freedom Party is the Netherlands' third largest political party in the nation's parliament. (Below is a video report by AlJazeera, followed by a video titled "Geert Wilders' Warning to America.") "The acquittal yesterday of Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders on charges of inciting hatred," reports The Independent (UK), "has split the Netherlands down the middle as effectively as the populist MP's right-wing rhetoric." The report about the acquittal of Geert Wilders noted that the judge "ruled that some of Mr Wilders' comments may have been "crude and denigrating" but they did not amount to inciting hatred against Muslims and remained within the boundaries of free speech." “I am delighted with this ruling,” wrote Geert Wilders on his own website today. “It is a victory, not only for me but for all the Dutch people. Today is a victory for freedom of speech. The Dutch are still allowed to speak critically about islam, and resistance against islamisation is not a crime. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak.”
Wilders's final remarks in his Amsterdam trial were powerful. You can watch a video Wilders' closing remarks on YouTube (in Dutch with English subtitles).
The Independent report quoted a sociologist in Amsterdam as saying that Wilders "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." Wilders went on trial in October 2010 because he compared the Koran with Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf." In Geert Wilders' closing statement, reports Der Spiegel, he "said that his controversial statements against Islam were protected by the right to free speech. Wilders said he believed the process of Islamization presents a threat to Europe and that it is his right and duty to warn the public about it. If he had been convicted, Wilders could have faced up to one year in jail or a fine of up to €7,600 ($10,865). At the peak of the controversy over his statements, Wilders was once even banned from entering the United Kingdom."