Wielders convicted for inciting racial hatred

ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN

Geert Wilders (R) of the Freedom Party speaks in the court of Schiphol, the Netherlands, 23 November 2016, during the last day of the trial against the right-wing politician. Wilders is standing trial for allegedly inciting hatred against the Dutch Moroccan minority.

But, he will pay no penalty


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The leader of the Dutch far-right, anti-Islamic, and Eurosceptic Party of Freedoms (PVV) Geert Wilders has been convicted for inciting racial hatred on Friday, December 9.

Ruling

No penalty was imposed. The maximum penalty for inciting racial hatred is €7,500. The prosecution asked the court to fine Wilders €5,000. He will pay nothing.

Mr. Wielders has dismissed the legitimacy of the Court and has used the trial to undermine the legitimacy of the Dutch democracy, regarding his trial as an assault on freedom of speech. Wielders boycotted most of his trial, except closing arguments.

Political context

The Netherlands goes to the polls on March 15. Opinion polls show Wilders’ PVV has a comfortable 4% lead over the ruling Liberal party of Prime Minister Rutte (VVD).

Dutch democracy on trial

His trial began on Monday, October 31st. In his opening statements, Wielders referred to the Netherlands as “a dictatorship”; on closing arguments, Wielders said that freedom of expression is the only freedom left to him.

“I refuse to believe that we will give freedom up like that, we are Dutch. That is why we speak out… I will never be silenced by anyone,” Wielders said.

Painting himself as a martyr of democracy, Wielders said he would “die” before being silenced and likened the trial resembles tribunals like those in Turkey or Iran, making a “mockery of the rule of law.”

In an open letter to the press, Wielders argued that it was “his right and his duty” to talk about the “enormous Moroccan problem,” of the Netherlands. “If talking about it is a criminal offense, then the Netherlands is no longer a free country but a dictatorship,” he added.

“That can be arranged.”

Wielders is convicted for a 2014 incident when he delivered a speech during a PVV rally. As his audience was chanting “fewer, fewer, fewer,” {Moroccans in the Netherlands}, Wielders responded: “that could be arranged.”

He also called Moroccans “scum.”

In a similar case in 2011, Dutch justice acquitted Geert Wilders, who called for the prohibition of the Koran and the deportation of “criminal” Moroccans. At the time, he argued he referred to “criminal only” Moroccans. This time, the reference was to Moroccans as such.

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