Wilders told RTL Nieuws ahead of the hearing that whatever the outcome of the case ‘it does not interest me in the slightest’. ‘They will never shut me up,’ he said, before going on to describe the trial as ‘judicial jihad’.
The case dates back to 2014 when Wilders asked a roomful of supporters if they wanted to have ‘more or fewer’ Moroccans in the country. When the crowd shouted back: ‘Fewer, fewer,’ Wilders responded: ‘We’ll take care of that.’
In December 2016, Wilders was found guilty of inciting discrimination against Dutch Moroccans. A panel of three judges said Wilders’s comments were ‘demeaning and insulting to the Moroccan population’.
However, the court decided not to fine or sentence Wilders on the basis that a criminal conviction was sufficient punishment in itself.
The appeal court has allocated 11 days to the hearings which are being held in the high security courtroom at Schiphol airport.
Also on Thursday Wilders announced plans to organise a new ‘Mohammed’ cartoon competition, with €5,000 in prize money, later this year.
He told the Telegraaf he aims to hold the competition in the parliamentary complex. Every year, each political party elected to parliament can host an event for party supporters.
However, three years ago, parliament rejected Wilders’ plan to hold an exhibition of anti-Islam cartoons inside the complex, saying ‘exhibitions in parliament must focus on the role of parliament and should not offer a platform to party political statements or be controversial.
‘Of course there has to be security but parliament is safe,’ he told the Telegraaf. ‘The biggest danger is limits to freedom of speech. The aim of this is not to provoke but to show that freedom of speech is greater than the aversion Muslims have to drawings of Mohammed.’