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Gert Wilders’ Acquittal : All Views On The Dutch Polemicist

by | 24th, June 2011

DUTCH anti-Islam nationalist Geert Wilders has been acquitted of “hate speech” by comparing the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. He wants a tax on headscarves and to stop  mosques bing built. And he’s not going to jail. A good decision? Yes. Intolerance will not be tolerated is not a coherent slogan. But to agree with what he says..? Well, no. He’s wrong.

Not everyone agrees. Says Ubaldus de Vries:

The feeding of this fear is an attempt to increase the existing polarisation and segregation of Dutch society, potentially leading to banlieue-type unrest. Unless we all start realising the futility of the attempt – and the court should have given just such a signal.

Gerard Sprong says:

“We are thinking of going to the European Court. I think Wilders went too far. I was surprised and shocked when he said at the end of the trial that he had meant to be rude and insulting. That is an admission in itself.”

Ban rudeness now! Jail the rude! No. That’s not much of an argument.

Says Wilders:

“It is a victory, not only for me but for all Dutch people,” he said. Today is a victory for freedom of speech. The Dutch are still allowed to speak critically about Islam, and resistance against Islamisation is not a crime. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak.”

He’s the head of The Freedom Party – the champions of negative freedoms.

Fazrzana Versey:

It was indeed “a beautiful day” as Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician, wrote after being acquitted for hate speech against Islam. It was a beautiful day not because it was a victory for freedom of speech, but because what Wilders has been doing is akin to sowing wild oats. One should hope he has now got his hormonal kicks and can get down to real political debate.

Nina Shea

The presiding judge in the case determined that Wilders’s remarks were sometimes “hurtful,” “shocking,” and “offensive.” But the Court of Amsterdam reached its decision, as Reuters reported, by noting that “they were made in the context of a public debate about Muslim integration and multiculturalism, and therefore not a criminal act.” Thus, this case was decided on the basis that Wilders’s remarks were made in the proper context — in an ongoing public debate on specifically legitimate issues. Using this subjective criterion, the court evaluated the content of Wilders’ words to determine that they were lawful. In another context, or evaluated by another court, they might not be.

Perry De Havilland:

… no, it was the highest institutions of the Netherlands who were on trial with their credibility and very legitimacy at stake.

Although I am delighted he was acquitted of all charges, frankly it is a disgrace that he was ever put on trial in the first place for simply stating his views about Islam and multiculturalism.

And the fact the BBC calls him ‘far right’ tells you nothing useful about Geert Wilders’ views but speaks volumes about the BBC.

John Hudson looks at America’s reactions:

Victory!” shouted the right-wing blog Weasel Zippers, as news of the acquittal came streaming in. “They must have known how history would view them if Wilders had been found guilty: as troglodytes who ushered in the return of the Dark Ages,” wrote anti-Islam firebrand Pamela Geller at Big Government. “Hallelujah!” cheered Zilla of the Resistance. The Jihad Watch blog called it a “great victory for decency and sanity.” Over at The American Thinker, Rick Moran noted that Muslim groups were outraged, taking the issue to United Nations Human Rights Committee where “no doubt they will get a sympathetic hearing.”  Over at the National ReviewMark Steyn gave a somewhat more nuanced reaction to the ruling but applauded Wilders regardless. “Very few Europeans would have had the stomach to go through what Wilders did–and the British Government’s refusal to permit a Dutch Member of Parliament to land at Heathrow testifies to how easily the craven squishes of the broader political culture fall into line.”

Die Tageszeitung:

“To marginalize an entire group of citizens is blatant discrimination and should be punished — even in the Netherlands. But the court in Amsterdam apparently does not have the will to rein in the popular right-wing populist whose party the current government tolerates. His remarks were justifiable in the political debate, it said. At the same time, it is hard to fathom why Wilders was acquitted of the charge of incitement to racial hatred. After all, even the judge admitted that Wilders’ comments are often “hurtful” for Muslims and that his film “Fitna” promotes aggression against Islam.

“This ruling is a free pass for Wilders to continue with his agitation — and a slap in the face for Muslims who live in the Netherlands, and all those who believe in an equitable and peaceful coexistence between immigrants and natives, Christians and Muslims. And not only because Wilders has not been convicted. The court has also exonerated him of any accusations of being responsible for racist or discriminatory views. Right-wing populism in the Netherlands has finally been legitimized.”

Bruce Walker:

Unsurprisingly, not everyone was happy with the acquittal. Aydin Akkaya, Chairman of the Council of Turks in the Netherlands, voiced his displeasure: “What surprises me is that the judge says that what’s permissible is determined by the context of societal debate. In other words, if you just find a ‘context’ you can go nuts.” Mohammed Rabbae, Chairman of the National Moroccan Council, warned of a lawsuit: “We will go to the United Nations Council for Human Rights in Geneva. The suit will be directed against the government.”

Academia also quickly took sides against Wilders. Professor Leo Lucassen, Chair of the Social History Department at Leiden University, averred that the verdict “will further the inward-looking and to some extent xenophobic atmosphere in the Netherlands” and that it “fuels this idea of immigrants who are basically an alien element to the Dutch people.” Andre Krouwel of Amsterdam’s Free University called the decision a “incredible mistake” which “legalized populist rhetoric.” He warned:

Inside the Netherlands and outside, politicians will now go the same way: to the edge of what is allowed. Right-wing politicians in other countries will be able to point to the Netherlands and say, “They can say it there — why not here?”

…Geert Wilders, of course, was not lying. At worst, he was expressing a negative opinion about Islam. If Christians in Europe hailed before the courts everyone who said something negative about Christianity, then the courts would have almost no time for anything else.

You have a view?



Posted: 24th, June 2011 | In: Politicians Comments (4) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink