Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders on trial for anti-Muslim stance

The Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders was greeted with applause from the public gallery as he faced court for the first day of his landmark trial on charges of inciting racial hatred against Muslims.

Mr Wilders, 46, sat impassively as his lawyer argued that the leader of the Freedom Party, which made big gains at last summer's European elections, had made his critical remarks about Islam in his role as an elected Member of Parliament.

Bram Moszkowicz said that Mr Wilders had a mandate to speak out against what he saw as the Islamisation of the Netherlands and argued that he had not discriminated against a specific national group, saving his attacks for the ideology of political Islam.

Around 200 supporters of Mr Wilders had travelled from as far as Cologne in Germany to hold up placards declaring that free speech was under assault by Islam and by the politically correct. The case is being watched as a test of the limits of political tolerance in the Netherlands after years of relaxed immigration policies which have seen the Musim population rise to around 1 million out of 16 million.

"This case is about more than Mr Wilders," Mr Moszkowicz told Amsterdam District Court this morning. "It touches us all. It is such an important and principled question that could have far-reaching consequences." Read more
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