Lawmaker hate speech case will go on: Dutch court

Lawmaker hate speech case will go on: Dutch court 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 is clear.

Bureau Report