Geert Wilders, the fiery right-wing Dutch politician, was acquitted on Thursday of hate speech charges by an Amsterdam court, which found that his inflammatory comments were protected by rules governing discourse in a free society.
Mr. Wilders, 47, had faced a possible one-year prison sentence on five charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims. He has become an important force in Dutch politics, making provocative statements including comparing the Koran with “Mein Kampf” and calling for an end to Muslim immigration.
Mr. Wilders also made a short film, “Fitna,” in 2008 portraying Islam as inherently violent, and joined Newt Gingrich in New York last August to oppose the building of a mosque near the World Trade Center.
But the presiding judge of the Amsterdam District Court, Marcel van Oosten, found that Mr. Wilders’ actions, while offensive, were protected speech. In dismissing the charges, the judge described some of Mr. Wilders’s comments as “rude and denigrating,” and others as “on the edge of what is allowed,” Radio Netherlands reported.
Mr. Wilders’s supporters clapped as the judge concluded his remarks.
Prosecutors had themselves called for Mr. Wilders’s acquittal, saying his comments did not meet the definition of criminal speech...Update: Wilders isn't out of the woods just yet. Reuters is reporting that the aggrieved will likely take their case to a higher authority:
Minorities groups said they would now take the case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, arguing the ruling meant the Netherlands had failed to protect ethnic minorities from discrimination.The ideal place to snuff out the last trace of uppity, un-Islamic infidel free expression, no? (Can't wait to see the Geert Wilders display in Canada's "human rights" mausoleum. Presumably they won't put it in the Mass Atrocities zone. ;) )