On Friday, Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who has taken a strong stand against Muslim immigration to his country, was found guilty of discrimination against Moroccans, although he was acquitted of hate speech.
The judges wrote, “The inflammatory character of the way in which the statements were made have incited others to discriminate people of Moroccan origin,” but ruled that Wilders’ words at an election rally in 2014 did not contain “sufficient evidence” for them to be considered hate speech. They added, 'In this case, the most important question is whether Wilders has crossed a line. This judgment has answered that question. The chamber finds that justice has been done. Consequently, no punishment is imposed.'
The prosecution wanted Wilders to pay a 5,000 euro fine; that was dismissed by the judges. Wilders immediately said he would appeal the decision.
Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) is poised to make significant gains in the March 2017 election, possibly even running the government, as the most recent polls show the party grabbing 34 of the 150 seats in the lower house of Dutch parliament, roughly 10 more than the closest group, Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberals. What is truly unique about the PVV is this, according to political scientist Andre Krouwel: "The PVV has no party organization or local branches, no member or activist base, he is the only member of the party."
The trial was based on statements from a 2014 local government election rally in The Hague, when Wilders asked the crowd if they wanted “fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands.” The crowd responded “Fewer! Fewer!” That prompted Wilders’ reply: “We're going to organize that.”
The judges stated, “Wilders singled out an entire group of citizens without making any distinction. This group has less rights to reside in the Netherlands. Therewith, this statement can be regarded as affecting the dignity of this group as a whole. It is insulting for the entire group.”
Wilders has promised to confiscate Korans, close mosques and Islamic schools, shut Dutch borders and bar migrants from Islamic countries from migrating to The Netherlands.
ISIS and Al-Qaeda have threatened him with death, causing him to be guarded at all times. When the BBC interviewed supporters of the PVV, it asked them why they supported Wilders. The BBC wrote: "All of them speak of a loss of faith in the mainstream, of broken promises and politically correct tip-toeing around the real issues affecting their lives, primarily radical Islam, immigration and the influence of the EU."
After the verdict, Wilders tweeted:
Wilders released a video with a more lengthy response. The video is below: