Searchlight - August 2011
An Amsterdam court acquitted Geert Wilders, the leader of the right wing populist anti- Islam Freedom Party (PVV), of all incitement to hatred charges against him on 23 June. The court described Wilders´ insults as "shocking and insulting", labelled him a "fanatical fighter against Islam" who had published a film - the internet video clip Fitna - with shocking and offensive images and branded him a politician who expresses himself in a rude and belittling manner. Though none of that, in the eyes of the court, constituted incitement to hatred or discrimination, some of Wilders´ intemperate remarks were in breach of the law. These included "those Moroccans boys are really violent. They smash up people because of their sexual preference" and "The borders will close the same day for all non-Western immigrants." But, since Wilders is a politician engaged in a heated debate about multiculturalism, immigration and Islam, (a debate he himself heated up!) he can say these things. Likewise, when Wilders spoke about the growing number of Muslims in the Netherlands posing a threat to society and claimed "there is a battle going on and we have to defend ourselves." Though the court viewed that comment as unlawful, the fact that Wilders said, in the same interview, that he has nothing against Muslims, only against Islam, enabled him to go unpunished. Wilders, in the meantime, has lost his bid for martyrdom. Though obviously glad to be acquitted, he has, for the moment, lost a perfect platform for media exposure where he could launch attacks on the legal system and on Islam on live television. The victims in this trial, who brought the original case, will now file a complaint against the Dutch state at the Human Rights committee of the United Nations in Geneva. This is because they feel that the court verdict had signally failed to defend them against Wilders´ hate speech. Other victims will file a complaint at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to try to get the verdict annulled without a sentence for Wilders. It is probable that Wilders would have been convicted in a Belgian or French court and that the European Court of Human Rights would have ratified his conviction. Key elements in such previous rulings have been that politicians have a special responsibility to combat discrimination and hate. Wilders, however, can now step up his anti-Islamic crusade and continue to classify Muslims as some kind of second- class humanity with his dangerous mixture of racism, xenophobia, nationalism and so-called Western cultural superiority.
Jeroen Bosch for Alert! and Antifa-Net in Amsterdam