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Free Speech on Trial: 15 Defense Witnesses Disallowed

Judges in free-speech trial of Fitna movie-producer reject 15 requested expert defense witnesses. Wilders: "Court not interested in truth."
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/4/2010, 10:14 AM / Last Update: 2/4/2010, 12:00 PM

The free-speech trial of anti-Islamization Fitna movie-producer Geert Wilders has taken a break – after the court rejected 15 of Wilders’ requested witnesses. Some Dutch analysts following the trial said the decision “indicates the court’s bias against Wilders, and so does not bode well for him.”

Wilders, leader of the PVV (Party for Freedom) in the Netherlands, is on trial in Amsterdam, charged on five counts of insulting Muslims, discriminating against Muslims, and incitement to hatred.

Wilders is well-known for his outspoken opposition to the Islamization of Europe in general and Holland in particular. His 2008 movie Fitna (see below) dramatically shows the aims and means of extremist Islam, and ends with a call for Europe to defeat Islamic ideology, just as it once defeated the threats of Nazism and Communism.

In the court's most recent session, on Tuesday, the judges turned down most of his requests for witnesses, agreeing to hear only three of the 18 for whom he asked. The only ones deemed "competent" and acceptable are Dutch Arabists Hans Jansen and Dr. Simon Admiraal, and Syrian-born Wafa Sultan, who is outspoken in promoting her view that Islam is "not only a religion, but is also a political ideology that preaches violence and applies its agenda by force."

Wilders responded with anger to the decision, saying “This Court is not interested in the truth and doesn’t want me to have a fair trial. I can’t have any respect for this. This Court would not be out of place in a dictatorship.”

In his opening speech at a previous session, Wilders made an impassioned plea on behalf of the freedom he feels is threatened in his country:

Of all our achievements, freedom is the most precious – and the most vulnerable. People have given their lives for it… I believe that that freedom is endangered in the Netherlands; it is no longer a given, no longer self-evident…  I know that the words I use are sometimes tough, but they are never reckless… I have nothing against Muslims; I have a problem with Islam and the Islamization of our country, because Islam is at right angles to freedom... The [question at hand] is whether freedom of speech applies to everyone, even to Islam-critics, or only to one side.


“Lady Justice wears a blindfold, but she can still hear pretty well – and I hope she will hear this, loud and clear: It is not only the right, but also the duty, of free people, to speak out against any ideology that threatens freedom. Thomas Jeffferson was right: The price for freedom is eternal vigilance. I hope with all I have in me that freedom of expression in this trial will prevail.

"This trial is not only about freedom of expression, but also about truth – for if something is true, how can it be illegal?... I ask the court to honor my request to call not only expert witnesses on the issue of freedom of speech, but also experts on Islam from Israel, the U.S., the U.K., and other countries… I must be able to defend myself and prove that I have spoken the truth; please do not obstruct me from that.”

Among the requested witnesses whose rejection was not unexpected were Mohammed Bouyeri, the Koran-inspired murderer of Theo Van Gogh; a Dutch imam who had unsuccessfully tried to sue Wilders; and an Egyptian Muslim fundamentalist.

However, the other rejectees included five experts on free speech and five experts on Islam. Geert Wilders’ lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz, said that the court’s rejection of these experts means that it “overestimates itself.”

"That is quite something, that a court finds that no legal experts are needed,” he said. "When a judge overestimates himself, I start to be afraid.”

Moszkowicz said he would bring the statements of free-speech experts Theo de Roos and Henny Sackers into the case in writing, meaning that "the court will thus get a lot of paperwork because of this.”
The trial is scheduled to continue sometime between June 1 and October 31.  
Wilders' Fitna movie, which was screened on Arutz-7 after other internet sites were forced to take it down after receiving Muslim threats, can be seen below.


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