A Dutch politician has begun his appeal against his 2016 conviction for inciting discrimination against Muslims, refusing to apologize for seeking to legally limit Islamic influence.
A Dutch court convicted Geert Wilders, of the Freedom Party (PVV), in 2016 for inciting discrimination against Muslims during a campaign rally in which he asked the audience whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands, according to Straits Times. They responded by chanting “Fewer! Fewer!” to which Wilders replied “We’re going to take care of that,” according to Reuters. Geert now accuses prosecutors of trying to limit his freedom of speech.
Morgen hoger beroep.
Waar het islamisten nog niet lukt bij mij, probeert het OM alvast de vrijheid van meningsuiting om zeep te helpen.
Tomorrow my appeal in court.
While islamists so far are unsuccessful to kill me, the public prosecutor tries to kill the freedom of speech. pic.twitter.com/3dnozH4ot3
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) May 16, 2018
“What the Islamists haven’t been able to do to me, the prosecutors are trying to do anyway: destroy freedom of expression,” Wilders said in a tweet before his appeals hearing began.
Geert-Jan Knoops, Wilders’ lawyer, argued at the beginning of the proceedings that prosecutors had applied a double standard to Wilders and that they had “selectively applied” to him the standard by which they determine whether speech is discriminatory. Knoops claimed that while the court prosecuted Wilders for his statements concerning Muslims, they chose not to prosecute his political rival, Alexander Pechtold, for comments he made against Russians, even though people complained about such comments.
Wilders said that he has never called for violence against Moroccans but has advocated for reducing their numbers in the Netherlands by legal means.
He is an outspoken critic of Islam, which he has called a fascist ideology, and has even called for Mohammed cartoon drawing contests and posted to social media saying “Islam is dangerous.” He embraces the media’s characterization of him as an “anti-Islam politician.”
Today during the lunch break of my appeal-witch hunt-trial my anti-Islam clip will be broadcasted on national tv!
NPO2, 12.53pm pic.twitter.com/T9A7fhJ4qB
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) May 17, 2018
The Dutch constitution overtly outlaws discriminatory speech in any context. Wilders was, however, acquitted of a hate speech conviction in 2011.
Wilders’ appeals hearing will continue until June 6.