Dutch politician Geert Wilders found guilty of hate speech

Party for Freedom leader brands verdict ‘madness’, says he will never be silenced

Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders releases a videotaped response after a Dutch court finds him guilty of hate speech, saying the decision "restricted freedom of speech".

 

A Dutch court has convicted populist anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders of hate speech charges at the end of a trial he branded a politically motivated “charade” that endangered freedom of speech.

Wilders said on Friday his conviction for insulting Moroccans and inciting discrimination against them was an attempt to silence him before a national election in March that would fail.

Wilders was convicted over a televised 2014 incident in which he led supporters in chanting that they wanted “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!“ Moroccans in the Netherlands.

Presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis said the court would not impose a sentence on Wilders, saying the conviction was punishment enough for a democratically elected politician.

In a videotaped response to the verdict, which he did not attend in person, Wilders said: “I will never be silenced.” He said the ruling was an attempt to “neutralize the leader (himself) of the largest and most popular opposition party in the Netherlands“.

His Party for Freedom is currently narrowly leading a nationwide poll of polls and has risen in popularity during the trial.

Wilders also voiced criticim of the conviction on Twitter, saying: “Three PVV hating judges declare that Moroccans are a race and convict me and half of the Netherlands. Madness.”

Before the hearing, Wilders vowed not to let a conviction muzzle him.

“Whatever the verdict, I will continue to speak the truth about the Moroccan problem, and no judge, politician or terrorist will stop me,” he tweeted.

Reuters