Court Finds Islam Critic Geert Wilders Guilty of 'Incitement'

The court imposed no penalty but the three judge panel delivered a guilty verdict against Geert Wilders, leader of the PVV (in English, “The Party for Freedom”) of inciting discrimination—basically hate speech—for remarks he made about Moroccans.

Dutch anti-Islam political leader Geert Wilders has been convicted of insulting a group and inciting discrimination.

But no penalty was imposed by the court near Amsterdam on Wilders, whose party is leading in polls ahead of parliamentary elections in March.

Wilders was also acquitted of inciting hate over telling supporters in March 2014 he would ensure there were fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands.

 

Wilders responded to the verdict on social media and plans to appeal.

It’s hard not to see parallels with the current state of politics in the United States. It is easy to imagine something like this happening here without the 1st Amendment, which is why any effort by any political movement to subvert it should be condemned unequivocally. Even with the 1st Amendment in place, the would-be tyrants here already use the media to destroy reputations, careers, and lives where they can’t use the courts.

The three-week trial was triggered when police received 6,400 complaints about remarks Wilders made during a municipal election campaign in The Hague.

At a rally, he asked supporters whether they wanted “fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands”.

When the crowd shouted back “Fewer! Fewer!” a smiling Wilders responded: “We’re going to take care of that.”

At the trial, prosecutors took testimony from Dutch-Moroccans who said his comments made them feel like “third-rate citizens”.

This guilty verdict will do little to damage Geert Wilders’ political aspirations.

In fact, the trial has provided the populist leader with the two vital elements upon which his party thrives – a platform to promote his political message and masses of media attention. In court he repeated warnings about the dangers of Islam and immigration.

When people can be prosecuted for saying things that make another person “feel” something, there is no freedom of speech.

Wilders had argued his comments should be protected by his right to freedom of speech.

But judges at the court in Schiphol ruled that there were limits and that this right could not be used to limit the freedom of others – in this case, a minority group.

“If a politician crosses the line, that doesn’t mean free speech is being restricted,” said Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis. “A crime cannot be protected by the right to free speech.”

Speech-crime. Coming soon to a Constitutional Republic near you.