The trial of the Dutch politician Geert Wilders is descending into muddle and farce. The idea was to fine him and even send him to prison for inciting hatred by comparing Islam to Nazism and the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. No more free speech, in short, at least as far as anything to do with Muslims was concerned.
The trial has collapsed for the time being. The judges appeared to be rigging it when they refused to recall a witness for Wilders. Another witness for him was supposed to be Hans Jansen, a well-known Arabist professor. He revealed to a newspaper that he had had dinner with one of the judges, and in the course of “ill-mannered and unprofessional” exchanges this judge had tried to put pressure on him. A specially convened judicial panel agreed that “an impression of partiality” had been created, and therefore dismissed the present judges, postponing the trial to a later date with different judges.
The absurdity of these proceedings is wonderful to behold. It is inexplicable that in the Netherlands of all places — the country of Erasmus and Spinoza — the authorities should be trying to make political correctness legally enforceable. They have made themselves a laughing stock, and given Wilders the reputation right across Europe of an honest politician who comes out with what people in the street are thinking but don’t like to say.