Judges clear Dutch right-wing leader of inciting hatred

Dutch court clears Geert Wilders of inciting hatred and discrimination, but upholds his conviction for insulting a racial group.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff ,

Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders

A Dutch court has cleared right-wing politician Geert Wilders of inciting hatred and discrimination, but upheld his conviction for insulting a racial group, the BBC reported Friday.

Wilders was accused of leading calls for "fewer Moroccans" in the Netherlands at a rally in 2014.

In 2016 he was convicted of insulting a group and inciting discrimination, but he called the case a political show-trial and challenged the verdicts, arguing his comments should be protected by his right to freedom of speech.

In delivering their ruling, judges in Amsterdam said that the leader of the populist Party for Freedom had gone too far during a local election campaign six years ago when he got supporters to chant that they wanted fewer Moroccans in the country.

When the crowd shouted back "Fewer! Fewer!", a smiling Mr. Wilders responded: "We're going to take care of that."

This, the appeals judges said, was insulting to people of Moroccan ancestry in the Netherlands.

However, while these chants were insulting, Wilders provoked them for political gain, which did not amount to inciting discrimination, the judges ruled.

As such, they dismissed allegations that Wilders incited discrimination, overturning a conviction by a lower court. An allegation that Wilders incited hatred was also thrown out by the court.

Wilders will not face a jail term, nor will he pay a fine of €5,000 (£4,466; $5,900), which was sought by prosecutors.

In 2015, Wilders caused a storm in his country after he announced plans to broadcast cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, the founder of Islam, on national television.

Wilders canceled a similar contest two years ago after police arrested a man who had threatened to kill him over his plan.

His stance against Islam has in the past sparked outrage around the Muslim world and prompted death threats that have led to him living under round-the-clock protection.

Wilders was previously prosecuted in 2011 over anti-Islam comments such as comparing the religion to Nazism and calling for a ban on the Quran. He was acquitted and the case was widely seen as giving him a publicity boost.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)