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Posts Tagged ‘Geert Wilders’

LET FREE SPEECH REIN The Lost Case Against Geert Wilders

The case against the Dutch politician has backfired in every way imaginable.

When even the prosecution calls for a defendant’s acquittal and the trial judges have been disqualified for the appearance of bias, maybe it’s time to drop the charges. Rather than a retrial, a dismissal would be the best outcome in the case of Geert Wilders, the Dutch lawmaker accused of insulting and inciting hatred against Muslims.

Mr. Wilders is not shy in his criticism of Islam. He has called for banning the Quran, which he has compared to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” Mr. Wilders became famous by making a short film, “Fitna,” which juxtaposes Quranic verses calling for jihad with footage of the aftermath of Islamist terror attacks.

As unattractive as his expressed sentiments may be, they also qualify as free speech, which is why Dutch prosecutors initially dismissed complaints against Mr. Wilders. “No doubt his words are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims,” prosecutors said in 2008, but “freedom of expression fulfills an essential role in public debate in a democratic society.”

That should have been the end if it. However, an appeals court overruled the prosecution last year, forcing Mr. Wilders to stand trial. But the prosecutors still believe that no crime has been committed. “Criticism of a religion is not punishable,” prosecutor Birgit van Roessel told the Amsterdam district court 10 days ago.

Then the politically charged trial took another twist last week when one of Mr. Wilders’ expert witnesses, the Arabist Hans Jansen, wrote on his website that a member of the judiciary had tried to influence him. He said that at a dinner party before he was supposed to testify, one of the appeals judges whose decision compelled the prosecutors to press charges tried to “convince me of the correctness of the decision to take Wilders to court.”

To further complicate matters, the trial judges then denied a defense request to question Mr. Jansen in court about his allegations. An oversight panel of jurists finally granted the defense’s request to dismiss the presiding judges, calling their colleagues’ refusal to hear the witness “incomprehensible.” The trial, which was supposed to end next month, theoretically must start over with new judges.

Prosecuting Mr. Wilders has backfired in every way imaginable, not least politically. The trial has seemed to confirm his charge that avoiding debate over the implications of Muslim immigration leads to the erosion of Western freedoms, most notably freedom of speech. Despite, or perhaps because of, the trial, Mr. Wilders’ Party for Freedom became the third-strongest parliamentary faction in last June’s elections. This allowed Mr. Wilders to become a political king-maker by backing the new center-right minority government.

Meanwhile, as part of his defense Mr. Wilders has been putting the entire Muslim religion on trial. His defense includes not only invoking free speech but also calling expert witnesses to testify on the accuracy of his views of Islam. Before the judges could rule on whether it’s a hate crime to compare the Quran to “Mein Kampf,” Mr. Wilders wants them to rule on whether he was correct to make the comparison. This is only contributing to further religious animosity.

A retrial will achieve nothing but exacerbate these tensions. It’s time to drop the charges against Mr. Wilders before it further undermines the credibility of the Dutch legal system and the country’s tradition of free political discourse.

Geert Wilders trial is ‘unfair’ – Protect Free Speech

Dutch media reported on the the first day of the defence testimony in the trial of Geert Wilders, a controversial member of the Netherlands parliament who has been charged with hate-speech because of his far-ranging statements on Islam and the place of Muslims in European society. According to local media, Wilder’s attorney said that the current trial unfair and claimed the court had decided from the very start that his client was guilty of group defamation, and incitement to hatred and discrimination.

Wilders’ star advocate, Bram Moszkowicz , criticized conclusions drawn by the court that originally ordered the trial. These included describing Wilders’ comments as “exceptionally hurtful” and “having an offensive character”. The court had propagated the idea that his client was already guilty, thus denying him the chance of a fair trial.

Dutch daily, nrc.necxt, said that Wilders’ defense will continue with arguments on October 21 and that Wilders will have the last word on October 22.

Wilders has been banned from travel in the UK by the British government, ostensibly because of his statements about Islam. He is the producer of ‘Fitna,’ a movie that chronicles Islamic terrorism in Europe and the US.

Update:  An appeals panel at the Amsterdam District Court on Friday ordered judges in the hate speech trial of controversial anti-Muslim Dutch MP Geert Wilders to step down and ruled that the trial must be restarted with a new panel of judges.

Friday’s ruling follows Wilders’ demand that the present judges panel at Amsterdam District Court presiding over his trial be dismissed as they created “an impression of partiality” by their decision to reject a defense request to recall a witness.

Wilders’ lawyer Bram Moszkowicz had insisted at an earlier hearing that the court decision to reject the request for recalling the witness would “make it impossible for the defense to substantiate a crucial part of its case.”

In its ruling made Friday, the independent appeals panel said it found the trial judges’ decision to be “incomprehensible in the absence of any motivation,” and added that the fear of bias due to the judges’ decision result was “understandable”.

“Under the circumstances, the request (for the judges’ removal) is granted,” the panel said in a statement. “Another chamber will handle the rest of the case.”

The ruling implies that Wilders’ trial will now restart from scratch with a new panel of judges. The trial had opened on October 4 at the Amsterdam District Court after a lengthy legal process that began in January.

Wilders faces five charges for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims through his speeches and a 17-minute short film he had made earlier. He is accused of describing the Holy Koran as a “fascist book” and comparing Islam to Nazism.

Wilder, who faces up to a year in prison or a fine of up to 7,600 euros ($10,000) if convicted, denied the charges, insisting that he was within the bounds of the law while making the statements. He says the right to freedom of expression justifies his actions.

The latest development came as Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV), which secured its largest ever gains in the June national elections, joined a new all-conservative minority government in exchange for several policy concessions, including banning of the ‘burqa’ (Muslim women veil) and restricting immigration.

Pay attention to this; – it could happen in the US with Obama and Soros in Charge.

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