Dutch politician Geert Wilders talks to reporters in Amsterdam on Thursday after a court acquitted him of inciting hatred.
Depending on how you see it, a Dutch court’s acquittal Thursday of controversial politician Geert Wilders is an instance of hate speech gone unpunished or, as Wilders himself put it, “a victory for freedom of expression in the Netherlands.”
Regardless, he is officially off the hook for charges of inciting hatred with his strongly negative views of Islam, as he laid out in the short film “Fitna” in 2008.
Judge Marcel van Oosten ruled that some of Mr Wilders’ comments may have been “crude and denigrating” but they did not amount to inciting hatred against Muslims and remained within the boundaries of free speech.
Even Mr Wilders’ most inflammatory statements, including the remark that “the core of the problem is the fascist Islam, the sick ideology of Allah and Mohammed as laid down in the Islamic Mein Kampf: the Koran”, amounted to criticism of a religion and therefore were not illegal, the court decided.