Wilders won't give up; rails against "absurd" hate speech trial
Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, on trial for hate speech, said he has a responsibility to pointedly address the problems he sees in Dutch society no matter how sensitive the topic. “I’m still here. I’m never giving up,” Wilders said in court as part of his closing statement.
Saying he uses freedom to protect the Netherlands, Wilders said he had a right to speak out. “Against Islam, against terrorism, against migration from Islamic countries, and, yes, even against the mega-Moroccan problem which the Netherlands knows,” he declared. "People who want to stop me, will have to murder me first."
He went on to say that the "absurd" process prosecuting him meant that many others would also have to be dragged to court. "If you condemn me to condemn half of the Netherlands."
The lawsuit against the PVV leader revolves around statements he made about Moroccans while campaigning in the Hague in March 2014. On March 12th of that year he said that The Hague should be a city with "fewer burdens and if possible also fewer Moroccans". And a few days later he rhetorically asked a cafe full of people whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans, to which they chanted "fewer, fewer, fewer". The Public Prosecutor demanded a five thousand euro fine against the PVV leader.
Wilders is officially charged with four "variants" of two hate speech offenses. The charges are first related to deliberately insulting a group of people based on their race, and secondly inciting hatred or discrimination on the same group. He is charged with four variants of these offences - complicity, committing, incitement and "acting complicitly".
Interestingly, professor of sanction law Henny Sackers pointed out earlier today that Wilders is being prosecuted based on a law that he himself helped vote in in 2005. The law gives the Public Prosecutor more capabilities for harsher action against discrimination, hate speech and racism.
Wilders refused to attend any of the hearings - calling the trial a political process that should be held in parliament not in court - but decided to attend today to make use of his final chance to speak.