Anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders was in court in Amsterdam on Wednesday in a last-ditch attempt to head off part of next week’s court case against him for inciting hatred against Muslims.
Wilders’ lawyer Bram Moszkowicz told reporters outside the court that Wilders hopes the court will decide that he should not be prosecuted for ‘collective insult’ – or targeting a particular group of people on the basis of their race or nationality.
Wilders has always stated that he is targeting Islam, not Muslims themselves.
Wednesday’s appeal follows a decision by the public prosecution service to also charge the PVV party leader with inciting hatred against Muslims, Moroccans and non-Western immigrants, the Volkskrant reports. Wilders already faced general charges of inciting hatred and discrimination.
Moszkowicz referred to a case last March in which the high court ruled a poster with the words ‘stop the tumour that is Islam’ cannot be construed as insulting an entire group of people on the grounds of their religion.
But lawyers told the Volkskrant, Wilders’ appeal is unlikely to succeed because the case against him is more complicated.
The extra charge is based on Wilders’ statement that ‘the borders will close that same day to all non-western immigrants’, the paper said. The statement appears to refer to Wilders’ plans if he became prime minister.
‘Wilders always says he is attacking Islam, not Muslims,’ lawyer Haroon Raza told the paper. ‘But Wilders is not only talking about Muslims but non-Western immigrants, or people with different coloured skin.’
Leaving the court, Wilders told reporters: ‘Freedom of speech is under pressure. The legal system in North Korea is better then in the Netherlands.’
Journalists were not allowed in the court complex until Wilders had left the building.
The formal case against Wilders opens on January 20.
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