Sunday, January 24, 2010

Geert Wilders on trial

Here's the speech that Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders gave on January 20 at a pre-trial hearing before the Amsterdam District Court. Wilders is charged with having "intentionally offended a group of people, i.e. Muslims, based on their religion," as well as having incited to hatred and discrimination.

His argument: that people should have the freedom to criticize Islam as well as the freedom to call for the destruction of the West. As he points out: "I am being prosecuted for my political convictions. The freedom of speech is on the verge of collapsing. If a politician is not allowed to criticise an ideology anymore, this means that we are lost, and it will lead to the end of our freedom." His trial opens on February 3.

Wilders is particularly famous for his short film Fitna, released in March 2008, which juxtaposed certain passages from the Koran and vicious speeches by Muslim clerics with the violent and terrorist acts they inspired. His political party is now one of the two largest in the Netherlands, despite the fact that he lives under constant death threats. If the court finds against him, it will be condemning the 30% of the Dutch electorate that agrees with him.

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