Amsterdam: A court on Wednesday ordered the
continuation of the hate speech trial of one of the
Netherlands` most popular leaders, an anti-immigrant
politician who has compared Islam to fascism and called for a
ban on the Quran.
Geert Wilders, whose Freedom Party is propping up an
all-conservative minority Cabinet, is accused of making
discriminatory remarks on the basis of race and religion, and
of inciting hatred against Muslims.
He denies wrongdoing, saying his comments are part of
legitimate political debate and within his free-speech rights.
Opponents say Wilders` remarks have led to increased
discrimination against Muslims in the Netherlands, where they
make up around six per cent of the population, and impinging
on their right to freedom of religion.
"Disappointing ruling at Amsterdam court," Wilders
wrote on his Twitter feed. "Still am convinced of acquittal,
will never be silenced."
Judge Marcel van Oosten rejected defense arguments
that prosecutors had gone beyond the scope of their case, and
that the Amsterdam District Court was the wrong venue for a
trial, noting that some of Wilders` most potentially offensive
remarks had been made or published in the Dutch capital.
However, Van Oosten said prosecutors had erred by
including one of Wilders` most-frequently cited remarks in
their case against him.
"I`ve had enough of the Quran in the Netherlands:
Forbid that fascist book," Wilders wrote in the
Amsterdam-published newspaper De Volkskrant. Van Oosten said
that prosecutors had been supposed to limit themselves to
remarks that compared Islam to Nazism, not fascism.
However, Van Oosten noted that a similar remark made
by Wilders in the same interview: "the core of the problem is
the fascist Islam, the sick ideology of Allah and Mohammed as
written down in the Islamic Mein Kampf," was properly part of
the case, since in that instance, the comparison with Naziism