Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Dutch Politician Who Criticized Islam Appeals Discrimination Conviction

PVV leader Dutch Wilders./Ph. DR PVV leader Dutch Wilders./Ph. DR
Steven Clarke | 18 May, 2018, 13:30

Firebrand Dutch politician Geert Wilders returns to court Thursday to appeal his 2016 conviction for discrimination, unrepentant in the personal battle he is waging against Islam.

But they said there was "insufficient evidence" to find that his words amounted to incitement to hatred and acquitted him of hate speech. "Fewer!" Wilders answered: "We're going to organize that". However, the appeal judges have ordered the prosecution to provide details about how these complaints were handled.

Geert-Jan Knoops, Wilders' lawyer, argued at the beginning of the proceedings that prosecutors had applied a double standard to Wilders and that they had "selectively applied" to him the standard by which they determine whether speech is discriminatory.

"I at least expected that I would be given a fair trial".

About 40 people - mostly Dutch with Russian roots - complained to the prosecution service after Pechtold told the public broadcaster NOS in February: "I've still yet to meet a Russian who admits his mistakes". To support his claim, Knoops pointed out that prosecutors had not brought a case against Alexander Pechtold from the centrist D66 party, who had been accused of making insulting comments about Russians.

He urged judges to postpone the Wilders case so they could examine the situation around Pechtold further.

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After a three-week trial, a Dutch court ruled that Wilders' statement was "inflammatory" in nature and had encouraged others to discriminate against people of Moroccan origin. Wilders reacted by calling the court "biased" and added: "You can not give me the honest proceedings I had hoped for".

Wilders also tweeted that "Freedom of speech is under attack, especially for Islam critics".

Wilders used the occasion of the start of his appeal process to announce a 'Mohammed' cartoon competition later this year, adding that he hoped to host the event in the parliamentary complex, despite previously being blocked from doing so. "We may never accept that", accompanied by a cartoon depicting himself standing outside a cell, watching an angry turban-wearing man inside.

During the court's lunch break, his Freedom Party (PVV) also ran a party political broadcast on the main broadcaster NOS which finished with the message "Islam is Deadly" as blood dripped from the letters.

However, the court decided not to fine or sentence Wilders on the basis that a criminal conviction was sufficient punishment in itself.

Wilders put forward a fiery platform in the country's 2017 general elections, vowing to close mosques, ban sales of the Quran and halt the immigration of Muslim refugees.

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