So MP Geert Wilders is not encouraging hatred or discrimination when he describes the Koran as a book like Mein Kampf which should be banned and Islam as a backward religion.

Now we know. After some 40 complaints, the public prosecution department has decided that Wilders might be offensive, but that he is not overstepping any social and political boundaries.
In that sense, the department is completely correct. In the Netherlands anno 2008 it is quite acceptable to say whatever you like about anybody in the name of free speech and promoting discussion of weighty social issues. Describing Muslim men as ‘beards’ and woman as ‘little headscarves’ has become the norm.
Free speech is indeed a precious freedom but it is also one that needs to be cherished and respected, not abused. The public prosecution department may be right when it says Wilders directs his anti-Islam tirades at the religion, not at its followers – as if that takes the sting out of the tail.
And Wilders knows exactly what he is doing. His tirades have helped create a climate of increasing intolerance. The debate has become so polarised it is often impossible to find any sort of rational contribution.
Wilders may be exercising his right to free speech, but he is damaging democratic society in the process.

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