Far-right politician Geert Wilders will not be prosecuted in the Netherlands for comments he made about Islam in Vienna in 2015, reports Nu.nl on Wednesday.
Last week it was reported that Austrian prosecutors had asked the Dutch government to pursue a complaint about his speech on 27th March 2015, in which he said ‘Islam calls people to be terrorists’, and is ‘an ideology of war and hatred’.
The case had been transferred, reportedly, for practical reasons and originated from a complaint by chairman of the Austrian Muslim Initiative Tarafa Baghajati.
But Dutch prosecutors said they will not be taking on the case since, contrary to Austrian law, it is not an offence to insult a religion or religious community. ‘Only comments that focus on a group that is characterised by a belief could be against the law,’ said the OM prosecution service.
‘On this occasion, Wilders spoke about Islam, not about the group of Muslims who are characterised by their Islamic beliefs. This comes under Dutch laws about criticism of beliefs, and not group insult.’
Wilders was acquitted of inciting hatred against Muslims in 2011 in the Netherlands on this rationale – that he was attacking the religion and not specific groups, and acting within his right to free speech. He was, however, found guilty of insulting Dutch Moroccans and inciting racial discrimination against them last year.
He is appealing this conviction, which had no punishment apart from a criminal record.
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