Wilders could face €5,000 fine in hate speech trial
The Public Prosecutor demanded a fine of 5 thousand euros against PVV leader Geert Wilders for hate speech and incitement in the high security court at Schiphol on Thursday, according to Telegraaf reporter Saskia Belleman tweeting live from the courtroom.
Wilders is facing various counts of hate-speech and inciting hatred and discrimination charges because of statements he made during a rally in The Hague in 2014. At one point he said that The Hague should be a city with fewer problems "and if possible fewer Moroccans". A few days later he asked a cafe full of people whether they want more or fewer Moroccans in the country, they responded by chanting "fewer, fewer, fewer". Neither Wilders or his lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops is present in the court room on Thursday.
On Thursday morning Wilders already said on Twitter that he will not pay much attention to the sentence demanded against him. "A sentence demanded for asking a question about one of the biggest problems in the Netherlands. Madness. I will not be bothered." he tweeted.
In court on Wednesday Public Prosecutors Wouter Bos and Sabina van der Kallen went through a 196 page long indictment against the PVV leader. According to Bos, this trial revolves around two fundemental rights in Dutch society - the right to freedom of expression and the right to be protected against discrimination. And there is tension between these two rights, he said.
On Thursday the Prosecutors extensively discussed the concept of race and the concept of offensive. This is because the law prohibits discrimination based on race, among other things. The defense is expected to argue that Wilders did not break this law, because Moroccan is a nationality, not a race.
Bos argued that because of a common national origin, Moroccans fall under the concept of race. Moroccans are also seen as a race by the rest of society, being described as an ethnic minority, according to Bos.
According to Bos, Wilders asked three questions during his speech in The Hague in 2014. First, do you want more or fewer EU, then PvdA, then Moroccans. The first and second questioned involved "legal entities, not people", according to the prosecutor. "That does not apply to the third question. That was rhetorical, and bore the answer itself", Bos said. According to him, a rhetorical question is actually a statement with an exclamation mark. "Politicians have great freedom in debate, but also great responsiblity", Bos said.
Bos adds that Wilders used classic rhetoric to "drive the room". "The unnecessarily hurtful nature of the statemetns can exist without foul language. The grievance lies mainly in the tone of speech, and inflammatory character", Bos said. "Here Wilders failed in his responsiblity as a politician.".
Prosecutor Van der Kallen added: "A politician must be able to raise public interest cases, and may shock and disturb. But at the same time a politician must not encourage the exclusion of a group of people." she said. "By combining different tropes and questions, there was incitement of the public."
The trial continues on Friday with lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops giving his defense.