Dutch court finds Geert Wilders guilty of inciting discrimination and insulting a racial group.
On the 19th of March 2014, Geert Wilders asked a crowd of supporters whether they wanted more or less Moroccans in the Netherlands. The crowd had been previously instructed to respond with “less, less, less!”. Within a month over 5000 Dutch citizens had reported his statements as a crime prompting a court case that has now resulted in a verdict partially rendering Geert Wilders guilty.
On two separate occasions the Dutch’s favorite populist/futuristic hairstyle model Geert Wilders made statements that resulted in charges of inciting discrimination and insulting a group or race. The court has judged him guilty of these crimes in one out of two occasions. In all of its wisdom the court has decided to render no punishment, claiming that the guilty verdict was punishment enough.
Geert Wilders is both the founding, and only, member of the Freedom Party which currently holds 15 seats in Parliament and seems poised for a strong election result in March 2017.
Free speech and race
Wilders’ main strategy during his trial was to frame his comments in the context of free speech. During his final plea Wilders said that “this trial against me stinks from all sides. In Turkey or Iran a trial against a member of opposition such as this one would be fitting”. Indeed on multiple occasions in both the media and in court Wilders has made such claims. In a column written by Wilders before the trial began he claimed it was “a political persecution”.
Against the charges of racism, the Dutch paper NRC wrote that Wilders offered the following defense; “Moroccans are not a race. Who comes up with these things? I am not a racist. My voters are not racist. Do you think we have 7 million people that are racist in the Netherlands?”. The number of 7 million refers to a poll that found approximately half of Dutch citizens want less Moroccans in the country. Though it should be noted the poll was conducted by a man called Maurice de Hond, who is famous in the Netherlands for being terrible at his job.
To be continued?
Wilders will appeal the court verdict and has responded to the decision via a tweet.
Three PVV hating judges declare that Moroccans are a race and convict me and half of the Netherlands.
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) December 9, 2016
And right after the tweets a youtube reaction followed (in English even – that’s not making Holland great again Geert!):
So what do you think? Did Wilders just used his freedom of speech or was it a clear cut case of racism?