Declaring the principles of the Enlightenment to be in violation of contemporary legal and social norms in Europe, a Dutch court has ordered that Geert Wilders stand trial for daring to speak in a contemptuous fashion regarding Islam and the Quran.
MP Geert Wilders, who leads the anti-immigration PVV party, should be prosecuted for discrimination and inciting racial hatred, Amsterdam's appeal court ruled on Wednesday.
'This is a black day for me and for freedom of speech,' Wilders told the Telegraaf on Wednesday. 'I had not expected it [this ruling].'
The public prosecution department has received dozens of complaints about Wilders' anti-Islam film Fitna and his statements in the media over the past few years.
But at the end of June last year, the department said it did not have enough grounds to prosecute him and that a healthy legal system should allow plenty of leeway to people involved in political debate.
The appeal court said that while freedom of speech was important, there were limits to that freedom.
Several of the complaints relate to articles or letters by Wilders which were published in the Volkskrant newspaper. For example, in August 2007 he called for the Koran to be banned. 'I have had enough of Islam in the Netherlands: no more Muslim immigrants,' the MP wrote. He also compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf.
Lawyer Haroon Raza, one of those who asked the court of appeal for its position, points to the 'massive social unrest' which Wilders has generated and says this is why he should be prosecuted.
Wilders' refusal to debate the issues with Muslims themselves means that those who feel insulted by his comments cannot counter the claims he makes, Raza told the Volkskrant.
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