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Court orders lawmaker to trial for anti-Islamic statements

Latest update : 2009-01-21

A Dutch court has ordered prosecutors to try far-right MP Geert Wilders for hate speech against Islam. Wilders, author of the controversial short film "Fitna", has called for the banning of the Koran in the Netherlands, calling it "fascist".

AFP - A Dutch court ordered prosecutors Wednesday to put far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders on trial for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims by comparing their religion to Nazism.
"By attacking the symbols of the Muslim religion, he also insulted Muslim believers," the Amsterdam appeals court said in a written judgment.
"In a democratic system, hate speech is considered to be so serious that it is in the general interest to ... draw a clear line," it added.
The court was handing down judgment after receiving numerous complaints from citizens over the prosecution service's refusal to press charges against Wilders for several public anti-Islamic statements.
These included statements in his 17-minute film "Fitna", which has been called "offensively anti-Islamic" by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and whose screening in the Netherlands prompted protests in Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia and Afghanistan.
Wilders is the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), which has nine seats in parliament.
He has called for the banning of the Koran in the Netherlands, calling it "fascist."
The prosecutor's office in Amsterdam said it had no option to appeal the judgment, and an investigation into charges of hate speech would be started immediately.
It could not say how long it would be before Wilders appeared in court.
Wilders said the ruling marked "a black day".
I see "the judgment of the court as an attack on the freedom of expression," he said in a statement on his party website.
"Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted."
Not only he, but all Dutch citizens opposed to the "Islamisation" of the Netherlands will be on trial, said Wilders.
"Who will stand up for our culture if I am silenced?"

Date created : 2009-01-21