Dutch court refuses to dismisses charges against politician for anti-Islamic statements

[JURIST] A Dutch court on Wednesday ordered politician Geert Wilders [personal website, in Dutch] to be tried for his video and printed statements against the Quran and Islam, dismissing a motion to drop or reduce the criminal charges. The trial court denied [NRC report] Wilder's counsel's argument that he could not be prosecuted according to a 2009 Supreme Court ruling, which held that insulting a religion, as opposed to its followers, was not punishishable under hate-speech laws [NYT report]. Wilders has been charged by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) [official website, in Dutch] with five counts of religious insult and anti-Muslim incitement.

In September, the OM announced that they would prosecute Wilders [press release, in Dutch] following a January 2009 court order [press release, in Dutch] by the Amsterdam Court of Appeals. This decision came after the OM announced in June 2008 that it would not prosecute Wilders [JURIST report]. Much of the controversy stems from Wilders' 15-minute film, Fitna, which shows images of the Quran alongside images of violence and says democratic values are threatened by the increasing number of Muslims in Europe. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the film "offensively anti-Islamic" [JURIST report] after its release. In February 2008, Pakistan blocked access to YouTube's website because it had posted a movie trailer for Wilders' film, but access was restored [JURIST reports] several days later. Indonesia followed suit [JURIST report] in April 2008. The same month, a district court in the Netherlands rejected [JURIST report] a bid by the Dutch Islamic Federation to block Wilders' anti-Quran statements, saying that his comments are protected by the right of free expression and do not constitute speech that incites hate or violence.

 

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