Source: No Justice in the Netherlands
A court in The Hague decided on October 14 that the charges of hate speech against Dutch politician Geert Wilders, for statements he made in March 2014 at a political rally, are admissible in a court of law. It thereby rejected the Wilders’ appeal to throw out the charges as inadmissible in a court of law on the grounds that these are political issues and that a trial would in fact amount to a political process. The criminal trial against Wilders will begin on Monday, October 31.
While campaigning in The Hague in March 2014, Wilders argued the need for fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands. At an election meeting in The Hague, he asked those present a number of questions, one of which was “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans?” After the crowd responded “fewer” Wilders said, “We’re going to organize that.”
Because of the “fewer Moroccans” statements, repeated again in an interview a few days later, Wilders will be prosecuted on two counts: First for “deliberately insulting a group of people because of their race.” Second, for “inciting hatred or discrimination against these people.”
Wilders’ defense attorney, Geert Jan Knoops, has argued that the trial amounts to a political trial against Wilders and his party, the PVV: “Sensitive issues must be judged by public opinion or through the ballot box,”, Knoops said “The Prosecutor is indirectly asking for a ruling over the functioning of the PVV and its political program. The court must not interfere with this.”
As a politician, Wilders can say more than an ordinary citizen, Knoops said, arguing that Wilders used his statements to point out shortcomings in the Dutch state. “It is his duty to name shortcomings. He takes that responsibility and proposes solutions.” Knoops argued that the prosecutor is limiting Wilders’ freedom of speech by prosecuting him for his statements.
The court’s response was that although politicians are entitled to freedom of expression, they should “avoid public statements that feed intolerance” and that the trial would determine where the border lies between politicians’ freedom of expression and their obligation, as the court sees it, to avoid public statements that feed intolerance.
Other politicians, notably all from the Labour Party, have uttered the following about Moroccans without being prosecuted:
- “We also have sh*t Moroccans over here.” — Rob Oudkerk, a Dutch Labour Party (PvDA) politician.
- “We must humiliate Moroccans.” — Hans Spekman, PvDA politician.
- “Moroccans have the ethnic monopoly on trouble-making.” — Diederik Samsom, PvDA politician.
The court discarded Wilders’ defense attorney’s argument that the failure to prosecute any of these politicians renders the trial against Wilders discriminatory. The court said that because of the different time, place and context of the statements of other politicians, they cannot be equated with the statements of Mr. Wilders and for that reason, the court considers that there has been no infringement of the principle of equality. Continue reading
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