Geert Wilders acquitted of hatemongering charges
A court in Amsterdam has acquitted MP Geert Wilders of charges of inciting hatred and insulting Muslims as a group. The charges had been brought by individuals who felt they had been discriminated against by the anti-Islam nationalist MP.
Both the defence and the public prosecutor had demanded an acquittal.
In a first reaction, Mr Wilders said, "It is not so much a personal victory, but rather it's a victory for the freedom of expression. Criticising Islam turns out to be allowed, I've not been muzzled."
The Amsterdam court rejected the charge that Mr Wilders had insulted a group, because his statements in the media and in his movie Fitna were about Islam as a religion, not about Muslims as inviduals. The charges relating to inciting hatred and to discrimination were also thrown out.
Mr Wilders' statements about "a tsunami of Muslims" were described by the court as "rude and denigrating". Other statements were "on the edge of what is allowed" and "inciting". Yet, the court took into consideration that Mr Wilders spoke out in the context of public debate.
The overall acquittal is assumed to spell the end of the case, since an appeal is not likely.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide