Dutch populist faces criminal case over 'fewer Moroccans' vow
Dutch prosecutors on Thursday opened a criminal investigation into firebrand populist politician Geert Wilders over his campaign pledge to ensure there were "fewer Moroccans" in the country.
Wilders set off thousands of complaints after he promised his chanting supporters during campaigning in March municipal elections that he would arrange for there to be fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands.
"The prosecution conducted extensive legal analysis of the remarks made, which has resulted in the conclusion that the remarks constitute the suspicion of a criminal offence," the prosecutors said in a statement on Thursday.
"The Public Prosecution Service considers Geert Wilders to be a suspect and has invited him for questioning," it said.
"He is suspected of having insulted a population group with respect to their race and of incitement to discrimination and hatred," the statement said, adding that it has not yet made the decision of whether to press a criminal case.
During a March 19 post-local election rally, Wilders asked party faithful whether they wanted "fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?".
"Fewer! Fewer!" the crowd shouted, with a smiling Wilders answering: "We're going to organise that."
The comments sparked an unprecedented wave of criticism, including from within his own Party for Freedom (PVV), and led to more than 6,400 legal complaints being filed nationwide.
Wilders, who is often reviled in Dutch immigrant communities for his fiery anti-Islam rhetoric, has in the past compared the Koran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and has called Islam a fascist religion.
A court in 2011 acquitted Wilders on hate-speech charges, ruling that he had targeted a religion, which is permitted under Dutch freedom-of-speech laws, rather than a specific ethnic group.
© 2014 AFP