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Monday, 14 February 2011

Judges Rule Case Against Dutch Anti-Islam MP To Continue (Netherlands)

A court in Amsterdam on Monday has ruled that the hate speech trial of Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders will go on, with new judges listening to the defense’s preliminary objections to the case. Those objections were already heard by a different panel of judges last year, but a retrial was ordered because of possible judicial bias against Wilders. The populist politician is charged with inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims and other non-Western groups.

If judges accept Mr. Wilders’ objections to the proceedings to be argued at a later date, then his case will be dismissed. If not, the trial will continue with Geert Wilders being allowed to question only some of the witnesses he wanted to call in his defense.

He told judges last week that he wanted to question radical Islamists,  what this court referred to as Islamic experts by experience, including convicted murderer Mohammed Bouyeri, who killed filmmaker Theo van Gogh seven years ago. Wilders argues that Bouyeri is living proof that Islam leads to violence.

But judges said the court already knows there’s a violent strain in some Islamic corners and limited Wilders’ witness list to a few Islamic experts and a controversial judge who the politician believes biased his case.

Wilders maintains it’s not Muslims but the Islamic religion and the Koran he’s taken on -- something allowed under Dutch regulations concerning freedom of speech.

In court last week, he continued his anti-Muslim rhetoric, calling Islam evil and the societies it dominates retarded. Such talk has made him a popular politician in the Netherlands, where his Freedom Party is a crucial ally of the right-wing government. Judges also ruled that the trial would remain in Amsterdam and not in The Hague where Wilders works and where he’s gearing up for March’s local elections.

Wilders said he wasn’t happy about that, but he’ll be back in court when it resumes at a later date.