Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders, who described Islam as
“fascist”, has been acquitted of inciting hatred against Muslims.
Judge Marcel van Oosten accepted the Freedom Party leader’s statements were
directed at Islam and not at Muslims.
Here, BBC News website readers in the Netherlands react to the verdict.
Daniel Milloy, Amsterdam
While I find Mr Wilders’ style and rhetoric extremely repugnant, I am pleased
that he was acquitted on these charges.
Incitement to hatred and violence, and knowingly spreading lies should be
illegal, but debating the validity of belief systems – religious or otherwise –
is an essential element of Western democracy.
I am Christian, yet I would find it disturbing if people were not permitted
to debate Christianity, or even to draw insulting political cartoons about what
I consider sacred.
If they are not protected in the expression of their opinions, how long will
I be protected in expressing mine?
I think that a belief system must be able to withstand criticism and debate,
otherwise we might as well trade our democracy for Iran’s or Nazi Germany’s
Sjaak Willems, Arnhem
I heard the court’s verdict this morning and was amazed by the strict line of
reasoning the judges followed.
It will hurt a lot of feelings, but will not have many
Sjaak Willems, Arnhem
It would have been easy for them to take the whole
context into account and conclude that Wilders’ aim is to blame a part of the
population for everything that’s wrong with this country.
It also highlights a curious mode of reasoning in Dutch law – that it is
possible to insult a religion without insulting its believers.
Wilders has been careful to balance on the edge of what is legally permitted
and the court has applied a High Court verdict with the utmost restraint.
So now a man with a large following and an unclear political agenda has
permission to say what he likes.
It will hurt a lot of feelings, but will not have many practical
His party has the kind of political cadre you don’t want to be seen in public
with. There is no real party organisation, no activity on the streets.
What this does, however, is re-adjust the image of this country as a liberal
and social-minded nation.
I know that was a lot of window dressing, but having all the muck from your
cellar served out on your dinner table is not an experience I wished for.
While I am not a fan of Mr Wilders, I do applaud him for his courage to
defend free speech here in The Netherlands. For some time free speech has been
under attack here, especially when it comes to defending the traditions and
values of our land. Luckily the judges in this case have come to their senses. I
hope that now Mr Wilders is relieved of this burden, he can continue his fight
for our values. Jack Bakker, Roosteren
The ruling is unfair to Muslim people everywhere. Nothing can be compared
with the holy Koran. Mahamud Omar, Amsterdam
What has this man achieved so far with his hard views? Twenty years ago the
Netherlands was one of the best countries in the world in every sense of the
word. The last few years, populists like Mr Wilders have literally turned the
whole country upside down with their populist politics. Maybe and hopefully
common sense will eventually prevail once again before too long in the
Netherlands and most of the populists like him and his colleagues will just be
voted out of the Dutch Parliament. Sebastian, Maasland
Although he is a misled politician with utterly irrelevant
policies, he must not be stifled”
A dark day for race relations and multi-culturalism in
the Netherlands. Nick, Friesland
Although I personally find Mr Wilders obnoxious, I believe he has the right
to his opinion. Recent revelations over the Catholic Church have prompted many
comments and insults to be aimed at the Church and its leaders, but no-one is
pursuing anyone through the courts for being insulting. It seems that only
comments against Islam may be treated as discriminating. Gerald Harris,
I cannot help feeling that this whole judicial process has been politically
motivated. Wilders has not crossed the boundaries of the law – the prosecutors
knew this. One small group managed to persuade a judge with more politics on his
mind than the law to force a prosecution. When it comes to hatred, it is more
directed at Mr Wilders who has to live under strict security – he has to have
more bodyguards than some of the Royal Family, just for exercising his right to
free speech and political debate. Andy Bugden, Den Haag
Wilders deserved to be cleared. Although he is a misled politician with
utterly irrelevant policies, he must not be stifled. Brouts,
As a non-Muslim who works internationally, I am totally disgusted with this
verdict. It indicates a clear lack of understanding of Islam as a religion, as
it cannot be separated from the followers of Islam. Denigrating their holy book
is the same as denigrating the followers. Mei Zegers,
Geert Wilders was born on September 6th, 1963 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geert_Wilders
September 6th, 1963
9 + 6 +2+0+1+0 = 18 = his personal year (from September 6th, 2010 to September 5th, 2011) = Surreal.