It has been several hours and many commenters have already announced the news, along with countless blogs and websites. I chose not to yet. The reason is, I do not understand the Dutch legal system which from what I have seen so far, is far afield from anything I am used to such as the Canadian, US or British systems. The very notion that the prosecutors in the previous incarnation of the Wilders trial had decided the charges were phony at best and political at worst and decided to drop it, only to have the ‘crown’ (I presume it is called the crown as they have a monarchy there) or the chief prosecutors office decide to retry him on the pathetic excuse that his previous objection to the trial, an objection Wilders attourney had made long before, was biased as were the judges etc.
The crown did not accept this objection until it was obvious that Wilders would win his case. Then suddenly it mattered.
So I am not celebrating this as a victory as I have no idea if it is one yet. More research is needed on this. I am posting now because one thing I read was, ‘No further prosecution on this matter is possible’ or words to that effect. In that case this really is a win. Unless they reframe the charges and try again.
We will know at the latest when Geert Wilders releases his much anticipated sequel to Fitna, Fitna II.
Wilders Cleared of Incitement Charges
After nearly six months, a trial against Dutch firebrand Geert Wilders ended Thursday in Amsterdam. A court acquitted the right-wing populist politician on charges of incitement, racial hatred and discrimination against Muslims.
In his verdict, leading judge Marcel van Oosten said that, while Wilders’ statements were indeed offensive to Muslims, they were also part of the legitimate political debate. Wilders’ claim that Islam is a violent religion and his demands for an immigration ban for Muslims had to be viewed in the context of the larger societal debate about immigration policies, the judge argued. He said the statements could not be directly blamed for increasing levels of discrimination against Dutch Muslims.
Wilders’ supporters greeted the ruling, and the politician himself smiled as he left the courtroom.
Comparing the Koran to ‘Mein Kampf’
The politician had been on trial since October 2010 because he compared the Koran with Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in Internet forums and in “Fitna” , a film he made that was extremely critical of Islam. In his closing statement, Wilders said that his controversial statements against Islam were protected by the right to free speech. Wilders said he believed the process of Islamization presents a threat to Europe and that it is his right and duty to warn the public about it.
If he had been convicted, Wilders could have faced up to one year in jail or a fine of up to €7,600 ($10,865). At the peak of the controversy over his statements, Wilders was once even banned from entering the United Kingdom.
After making strong gains in elections in the Netherlands last summer, Wilders’ party has become the third strongest in parliament. Although it is not technically part of the government, Wilders party supports the minority government, which is comprised of the center-right Liberal Party and the conservative Christian Democrats and which would collapse without backing from Wilders’ Party of Freedom.
Wilders’ comments sparked a massive debate on the integration of Muslims in Europe that has helped fuel other populist movements around the continent. In Germany , politician Thilo Sarrazin wrote a bestselling book warning that Muslim immigrants were dumbing the country down.
dsl — with wires