PVV leader Geert Wilders has been on trial for the past six years following a question he asked back in 2014.

Wilders asked his supporters if they wanted “more or less Moroccans” following the 2014 municipal election results, and the crowd responded with a chant of “less.” Wilders followed this response with, “then we’ll arrange that.” Wilders had apparently made similar statements a week earlier at a market in The Hague.

This public interaction incited 6,474 people to report Wilders to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for discrimination, which has resulted in a six-year trial.

A controversial figure

Labelled as a populist and far-right politician by the media, Wilders is a controversial figure, well-known for his campaigns against the “Islamisation of the Netherlands” and the immigration of people from Muslim countries.

Indeed, Wilders has gone to court for similar offences in 2010, in which he was accused of inciting hate and discrimination. He was not found guilty in this case. In 2016, Wilders was found guilty of inciting discrimination and hate against Moroccans but he was not punished for this offence.

The question of free speech

What makes this trial against Wilders so difficult is that it deals with the question of free speech. The PPS decided to prosecute Wilders for his speech in December of 2014 but Wilders and his legal team quickly appealed the ruling of the judge.

The judge had found Wilders guilty of group insults and indictment to discrimination but not of hate speech. This led to the PPS also appealing the ruling.

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Wilders has argued that he was only referring to problems and solutions that were in his election manifesto and that he clarified that he meant not all Moroccans shortly after the chanting.

In the appeal, which took place in 2018, Wilders argued that another politician, Alexander Pechtold should also be on trial given that he said similar things of Russians.

A conviction will be difficult

Reporter Mattijs Van de Wiel has told the NOS that conviction will be difficult today and it is unlikely a judgement will be given. “Because this case touches the boundaries of freedom of expression, it is complicated and there are few court rulings on what the court can fall back on. That is why there is a good chance that this case will not come to an end this afternoon.”

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Feature Image: Peter van der Sluijs/ Wikimedia Commons  

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