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Thread: Geert Wilders acquitted of all charges in hate-speech trial

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Geert Wilders acquitted of all charges in hate-speech trial

    Geert Wilders, the fiery right-wing Dutch politician, was acquitted on Thursday of hate speech charges by an Amsterdam court, which found that his inflammatory comments about Muslims were protected by rules governing discourse in a free society.

    Mr. Wilders, 47, had faced a possible one-year prison sentence on five charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims. He has become an important force in Dutch politics, making provocative statements including comparing the Koran with Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and calling for an end to Muslim immigration.

    Mr. Wilders also made a short film, “Fitna,” in 2008 that portrayed Islam as inherently violent, and he joined Newt Gingrich in New York last year to oppose the building of an Islamic community center and mosque near the World Trade Center site.

    But the presiding judge of the Amsterdam District Court, Marcel van Oosten, found that while offensive, Mr. Wilders’s actions were protected speech. In dismissing the charges, Judge Oosten described some of Mr. Wilders’s comments as “rude and denigrating” and others as “on the edge of what is allowed,” Radio Netherlands reported.

    Mr. Wilders’s supporters clapped as the judge concluded his remarks.
    The verdict had been expected as prosecutors themselves had called for his acquittal, arguing that the statements were directed “against a religion as such and not against individual persons or a group of people.”

    Under the case law of the Dutch Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, it was not possible to convict him, G. J. Alexander Knoops, a Dutch lawyer and professor of international criminal law at the University of Utrecht, said in an e-mail. But the Muslim organizations that brought the case won a Court of Appeal ruling that it should go ahead over the objections of the prosecution.

    “The judgment is in line with the case law of the European Court on Human Rights,” Mr. Knoops wrote, “which in 2010 held that only when certain statements incite to violence, there is a role for criminal law.”

    “The same approach is taken by the U.S. Supreme Court,” he added, for example in cases involving the Ku Klux Klan.

    The court gave the plaintiffs 14 days to appeal, but Mr. Knoops said the complainants had little ground for such action: “In our system, only the prosecution can appeal a judgment,” and that is “highly unlikely.”

    Ties Prakken, a lawyer who represented immigrant and antiracist complainants, agreed that “there is no appeal possible in the Netherlands,” and said she would instead bring the case to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, accusing the Dutch government of failing to protect people from incitement to discrimination or violence.

    “We have a reasonable case,” Ms. Prakken said, adding, “there is some case law in our favor there.”

    “It’s not only an acquittal for me,” The Associated Press quoted Mr. Wilders as telling his supporters, “but a victory for freedom of expression in the Netherlands. Fortunately, you’re allowed to discuss Islam in public debate and you’re not muzzled in public debate. An enormous burden has fallen from my shoulders.”

    The original judges in the trial were ordered to step down in October after Mr. Wilders’s lawyers argued that the jurists were biased against him.

    Ms. Prakken said she was concerned that after Mr. Wilders’s court victory, he would take a more bold public stance.

    “He’s poisoned the atmosphere,” she said. “It’s normal now to say in the Netherlands that the immigration experiment has failed. The climate has worsened, and he is both one of the instigators and one of the symptoms. It’s not like it was 20 years ago.”
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    Silver Member Working Girl's Avatar
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    Mr. Wilders also made a short film, “Fitna"

    Good video here is a link to anyone who would like to see it

    Fitna the Movie (English) 1/2
    Part 2

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