: Far-right Dutch leader Wilders on trial for hate speech
News16:44 Mar. 18, 2016

Far-right Dutch leader Wilders on trial for hate speech

Freedom Party leading in national polls by wide margin

Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician leading calls for a European Union ban on Muslim immigration, is back in court.

This time he has to answer charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against the Netherlands' Moroccan minority. Prosecutors say the case pits the right to freedom of speech against the right to freedom from discrimination.

"With his finger raised, Wilders asked the following question: "Would you like to have more or less Moroccans in this city and in the Netherlands"? The crowd shouted back: "less, less" and applauded. Wilders replied with the line: "We will take care of it." The suspicion is that with these words Wilders insulted Moroccans as a group. Further, the suspicion is that with these words he incited discrimination and hatred," Lead Prosecutor Wouter Bos says.

Read also Anti-immigration party gains shock Germany

A handful of Wilders supporters demonstrated outside the courtroom. They were joined by members of the anti-Islam movement Pegida.

"This is absolutely not a fair process. We are living in a democracy, and one has a right to say things openly, without calling on violence, and we are against that but we have the right to say what we want. Unfortunately, in the Netherlands, the left movements can say what they want but right-wing movements are not allowed to say anything," leader of the Dutch branch of Anti-Islam movement PEGIDA Edwin Wagensveld says.

Wilders says he has no grudge against immigrants who accept Dutch laws and customs, and that he has never advocated violence. His decade-old Freedom Party has risen to become the most popular in national opinion polls by a wide margin. Elections are expected in the Netherlands in March next year.

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