Dutch anti-Islam politician 'never goes too far': lawyer

30th May 2011, Comments 12 comments

Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders often "went far" in his criticism of the Muslim religion, but he never overstepped acceptable boundaries, his lawyer said in court Monday.

"He goes far, but he never goes too far," lawyer Bram Moszkowicz told the Amsterdam district court where the flamboyant politician faces hate speach charges.

"He doesn't speak out because it's funny. He speaks out over the gravest danger facing our Western civilisation: an increased Islamisation," Moszkowicz told judges.

"Acts of terror have been committed... with the Koran in hand, in London, in Madrid," he added, referring bombings in the two capitals.

"If there's a threat, Mr Wilders speaks out about it," said Moszkowicz in the trial, broadcast live on Dutch national television's website.

Dutch prosecutors also last week argued for Wilders's acquittal, saying that while his comments may have caused anxiety and insult, they were not criminal.

Wilders, the leader of the right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV), went on trial on October last year for criticising Islam and notably likening the Koran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf".

The trial ended abruptly after three weeks when the judges were ordered to step down by a panel of their peers who upheld claims of bias by the 47-year-old politician.

The trial resumed in March, with prosecutors again stating a previous position that there was no case against Wilders as he was critical of Islam as a religion and not Muslims as a people, and therefore committed no criminal offence.

Wilders, 47, became notorious in 2008 by making a short film, "Fitna", mixing Koranic verses with footage of extremist attacks.

The parliamentarian, whose PVV party gives parliamentary support to a right-leaning coalition, risks up to a year in jail or a 7,600-euro (10,300-dollar) fine for comments made in his campaign to "stop the Islamisation of The Netherlands".

Prosecutors initially dismissed dozens of complaints against him in June 2008 but appeals judges in January 2009 ordered that Wilders be put on trial as his utterances amounted to "sowing hatred" -- compelling an unwilling prosecution to mount a case against him.

© 2011 AFP

12 Comments To This Article

  • danzindd posted:

    on 7th June 2011, 10:52:06 - Reply

    Freedom of speech should always include respect and values for others. Regardless of criticizing a religion, it goes down to any opinion you make about anyone. We are seeing that the people are getting "tit for tat" in the 21st Century. The more you hate or belittle others the more you get the same in return (As Gandhi said, an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind). I also think Wilders opinion about Islam is very limited in perspectives and out of contexts. The people of this faith have been some of the great thinkers, philosophers, emperors, scientists, doctors, sports w/men etc. virtually shown their presence and wisdom in every aspects of society. They always derived hope and spirituality by believe in the concept of one God. How can you simply the blame this religion to the likeliness of Hitler's "meinkampf ". This is truly offending. Even if you do not believe in any religion, you do live by certain rules and principles, you can't afford to live with it when disrespected, insulted and misunderstood. His hate speech is way too much to be true about the basic tenets of Islam. Netherlands may have the problems of immigration and integration but Islam should not be blamed it. Even if the majority of people who are “blamed” by the so called “Dutch elites/tax-payers” for the so called "lacking integration in the Dutch society" associate themselves with this faith. I think each of us being an expat, if we remain honest to ourselves, define our own ways of integration with Dutch society, without compromising your own inherent believes and cultural values.
    Islam is a widely practiced faith and is inclusive of Christianity and Judaism. Many-many Muslims are peaceful, responsible, honest and caring about human values who always think positive towards the mutual co-existence. They are themselves frustrated with their own clan of radicals, who carry the burden of Islamic faith without even understanding it. Wilders, however, if he claims to be a responsible politician should have even the basic know how in how he practices his freedom of speech, rather a hate-monger, double-standard role, which might polarize the Dutch society.
  • Canucky Woman posted:

    on 6th June 2011, 10:28:24 - Reply

    Wilders will only be defending FREEDOM of SPEECH when he also allows his critics to say what THEY want without him demanding they shut up.

    True freedom of speech is allowing people to say what you disagree with. And I disagree with 90% of the comments here...but I will not demand that you be censored.

  • Betty of Canada posted:

    on 2nd June 2011, 00:27:33 - Reply

    Looking from the outside, it saddened me to hear what is happening in Netherlands. Where freedom of expression and speech is mistakenly misinterpreted as freedom not to be offended and to be politically correct, and to note this has been pushed by suppose to be 'enlightened' Judges is even tragic. Was this how Nazi Germany able to infiltrate Netherlands before and during World War II, that this country needed saving in the past? Wake up Netherland, fight for your freedom by speaking up. Do not let the politically correct elite give up and erode your freedom and democracy. Freedom/Democracy is a responsibility just as much as a right.
  • Tim posted:

    on 1st June 2011, 20:24:36 - Reply

    Wilders is speaking up for all those who value FREEDOM of SPEECH. Two of the greatest words in the English dictionary and put together they are greater than the sum of their parts.
  • Moderaat posted:

    on 1st June 2011, 12:24:28 - Reply

    Those Wilders incidents remind me of my neighbor's dog: He obviously cannot help hating cats, he chased and barked any cats that he saw. Of course we cannot understand why dogs hate cats.
  • Canucky Woman posted:

    on 1st June 2011, 11:22:54 - Reply

    So Roland, you're hoping they control what Wilders' critics say? How is that defending the principle of freedom of speech?

  • Susan posted:

    on 31st May 2011, 23:43:58 - Reply

    Arah: sorry, but I call bullsh*t on you. If Islam saved Europe from the Dark Ages, why are Islamic countires still in the Dark Ages? What you say makes no sense.
  • arah posted:

    on 31st May 2011, 15:06:14 - Reply

    Without Islam Europe will still be in Dark Ages and rules by the Churches

  • David Catleugh posted:

    on 31st May 2011, 11:35:01 - Reply

    What a curious legal system, where the judges decide who is to be prosecuted. The police don't want a prosecution, the prosecters don't want a prosecution (!), I would like to bet that most Dutch people don't want a prosecution, and most people in the civilized world, who believe in freedom, almost certainly don't want to see a great country like Holland, make a laughing stock of itself.
  • Joan posted:

    on 31st May 2011, 09:00:14 - Reply

    So a man in 21st century Europe gets sued and dragged through the mud because he criticizes a religion ! Why is the same thing not happening to all those Muslims who curse and openly belittle Christianity and all those who don't believe in Islam ? Where are all the other religions who get criticized all the time ? They aren't being sued ! So it's obvious that Wilders is considered a bigot etc. , not because he's wrong, but because that "insulted " religion is Islam. Are those Amsterdam judicial members stupid ? I think they have just been blinded by the fashionable madness to tolerate and pacify Islamics. That, and the fact that they hate Geert, and want him out of office. Wilders is to be admired for his effort to warn the free world about Islamization. How ironic that he is condemned for it instead !
  • Roland44 posted:

    on 31st May 2011, 02:50:33 - Reply

    I hope that if the judges rule the way the prosecutors and the defense want we will see a more moderate tone coming from Wilders opponents and critics.
  • ecks why posted:

    on 30th May 2011, 19:11:49 - Reply

    geert wilders is in trouble for speaking truths about islam against a politically correct society

    even a brief review of islamic theology