Anti-Islam lawmaker demands his acquittal

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Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders on Wednesday demanded an acquittal on charges of racial hate and discrimination, saying he was "defending freedom" in the Netherlands.

"Acquit me. I do not encourage hatred, I do not encourage discrimination," Wilders, 47, told judges before the Amsterdam regional court, broadcast on Dutch public television.

The court will give a judgment on June 23 at 9:00am (0700 GMT) Amsterdam court spokeswoman Yndra Poel told AFP.

Wilders, whose PVV party gives parliamentary support to a right-leaning Dutch coalition said: "I defend the character, the identity, the culture and the freedom of the Netherlands."

He risked 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" should he be found guilty.

The flamboyant politician went on trial last October for criticising Islam and notably likening the Koran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf".

He made the statements between 2006 and 2008 in Dutch newspapers, on Internet forums and in his 17-minute film "Fitna" (Arabic for Dissention) in which he mixes Koranic verses with footage of extremist attacks.

"I am obliged to speak, because the Netherlands is under threat of Islam," he said, adding "Islam is opposed to freedom."

"Mr President, members of the court, do not let the lights go out in the Netherlands," he concluded.

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

The Dutch MP originally went on trial October 4 but it ended abruptly after three weeks when the judges trying him were ordered to step down by a panel of their peers who upheld claims of bias by the politician.

The trial resumed in March, with prosecutors again stating their position last week.

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

1 Comment To This Article

  • Betty of Canada posted:

    on 2nd June 2011, 00:13:44 - 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.