Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Wilders acquitted

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An Amsterdam court Thursday acquitted Dutch far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders on charges of hate speech and discrimination for statements he made attacking Islam.

"You are being acquitted on all the charges that were put against you," Judge Marcel van Oosten said, reiterating an argument last month by the prosecution that charges against Wilders should be dropped.

"The bench finds that your statements are acceptable within the context of the public debate," the judge told Wilders, 47, who has been on trial in the Amsterdam regional court since last October.

The flamboyant MP faced five counts of hate speech and discrimination for his anti-Islamic remarks on websites, Internet forums and in Dutch newspapers between October 2006 and March 2008, and in his controversial 17-minute movie "Fitna" ("Discord" in Arabic).

The leader of the right-wing Party for Freedom's (PVV) acquittal comes on the backdrop of a prosecution unwilling to take up the case against the platinum-haired parliamentarian, who claimed before court he was "defending freedom in the Netherlands" against Islam.

Wilders -- one of Europe's most heavily-guarded politicians -- has demanded his acquittal before the court, saying he was "obliged to speak" because The Netherlands is "under threat" from Islam.

Wilders, whose party lends its support to a right-leaning Dutch coalition government, said he was "defending the character, the identity, the culture and the freedom of The Netherlands."

His case has been helped by a reluctant prosecution, who last month again asked for his acquittal, saying that although his comments may have frequently caused anxiety and insult, they were not criminal as they criticised Islam as a religion and not Muslims as a people.

On Thursday, Judge van Oosten said about Wilders' statements: "The bench finds that although gross and degenerating, it dit not give rise to hatred."

The prosecution's unwillingness to take aim at Wilders dates as far back as 2008 when it refused to take up a case against him following complaints. On January 21, 2009, however, the Amsterdam appeals court forced the prosecution to mount a case against him.

© 2011 AFP

2 Comments To This Article

  • Albert posted:

    on 24th June 2011, 07:37:16 - Reply

    Wilders is not pretentous. He spoke the heart and minds of netherlands Netherlands pretends to have loved u, but hate u. But Wilders are not hiding his feelings. He is outspoken even though as a public figure his autterances are questionable. One would not be expected to be in love with somebody who has no value for his life. Somebody who blows himself up and others in the name of protecting his Religion.
  • Typical Europe posted:

    on 23rd June 2011, 14:19:23 - Reply

    60 something years since evil brewed out of Europe sounds like eons ago but it still harbors, many offspring of the nazis and their sympathizers still exist, and this is a pathetic group of "Lawmakers" as this piece of garbage of a non human (Wilders), should be expelled immediately from any degree in the Dutch or any other Germanic Governemnt. First off the Dutch government like the other dutch need to get healthy and stop poisoning their bodies with cigarettes and alcohol . Then they need to come to grips with the fact that racists are forbidden in European government.