The Corner

Geert Wilders, Close to Exoneration

 

There has always been one reason to expect that the criminal case would fail against Geert Wilders, the influential Dutch politician accused of “hate speech” due to his negative views on Islam. That’s because the prosecutors tasked with bringing charges against him never wanted to do so.

Already in 2008, the prosecution service turned down requests that it indict Wilders. Appeals court judges in 2009 insisted that he stand trial, forcing the prosecution to indict him. With the case underway in an Amsterdam district court, Public Prosecutor Birgit van Roessel has just asked for the dismissal of all five charges against Wilders. “Criticism [of religion] is allowed. Wilders makes his utterances as a politician. We believe the fact that he made his statements within the context of public debate removes any punishable element.” Even if Wilders’s anti-Islamic statements hurt Muslim sensibilities, she added, “the wounding of … religious feelings” has no legal standing.

This robust assertion of a core Western principle gives hope that the Rushdie Rules will not be applied to Wilders and that the Dutch can defy Islamic laws. Wilders proclaimed himself “very happy” and Radio Netherlands deems the trial “as good as over.” But the case, in fact, is actually not over until the “lunatic judges” (as Andy McCarthy calls them) do accept the prosecutors’ recommendation. Their verdict is expected on Nov. 5.

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