Wilders på tiltalebenken

I dag startet rettssaken mot Geert Wilders i Nederland. Wilders er tiltalt for å ha tilskyndet til rasehat grunnet kritikk av islam. Anklagerne ville i utgangspunktet ikke tiltale Wilders fordi han retter kritikken mot ideologien islam, men en dommer beordret tiltale. Talsperson for en ledende muslimsk organisasjon håper at Wilders vil komme med en unnskyldning, mens Wilders har sagt at han vil forholde seg taus under rettergangen.

Hege Storhaug, HRS

Det er påfallende: så godt som hver gang media omtaler Wilders defineres han som høyreekstrem og blond. Ville en svart politiker i Nederland tilhørende Wilders parti blitt behandlet slik: at det hadde blitt understreket gang på gang at håret er svart?

Wilders har skapt overskrifter verden over med sine barske utspill mot islam og Koranen i seg selv. Han vil forby Koranen – på linje med det nederlandske forbudet mot Mein Kampf – grunnet ikke minst oppfordringene i boken til drap. Han har likeledes parallellført islam med nazismen. Han har skrevet en kronikk der han sier følgende: ”Jeg har fått nok av islam i Nederland; la ingen flere muslimer immigrere.” Og; ”jeg har fått nok av koranen i Nederland: forby den fascistiske boken”. Wilders på sin side mener han har 1,5 millioner stemmeberettiget nederlendere i ryggen, samme antall som stemte han og Frihetspartiet hans inn i parlamentet som det tredje største partiet ved det siste valget.

Det er ikke uvanlig at folk dømmes for diskriminering i Nederland, men stort sett alltid ender det med en mindre bot, melder Guardian

Wilders, the far-right Dutch leader, went on trial today charged with inciting racial hatred.

Prosecutors say Wilders, a key figure in a new coalition poised to take power in the Netherlands, provoked hatred against Muslims with remarks comparing Islam to nazism and by calling for a ban on the Qur’an. Wilders argues he has a right to freedom of speech. If convicted, he faces up to a year in prison.

The populist leader emerged last week as the linchpin in a new rightwing minority government, which he signed up to in return for a pledge to introduce a ban on the burqa and restrictions on immigration.

The Christian Democrats agreed to the new coalition at a party congress on Saturday despite nervousness from members about forming a government with Wilders. The new minority government, which also includes the liberal VVD party, is expected to take power over the next two weeks.

Wilders waved to supporters as he walked into an Amsterdam court at the start of the trial. He had been expected to embarrass his new coalition partners by using the trial as a platform for his anti-immigration rhetoric. But today his lawyer said he would stay silent throughout the proceedings.

Bram Moszkowicz said: «My client will, at my advice, exercise his right to silence today, tomorrow and the other days.» But Wilders’s Twitter account has not been silenced. «The freedom of expression of at least 1.5 million people is standing trial together with me,» he wrote, referring to his supporters in the national elections in June.

Among the remarks that his opponents see as offensive, an editorial in the newspaper De Volkskrant stands out.

«I’ve had enough of Islam in the Netherlands; let not one more Muslim immigrate,» he wrote in the paper. «I’ve had enough of the Qur’an in the Netherlands: Forbid that fascist book.»

The blond politician has called for a tax on clothing commonly worn by Muslims, such as headscarves, or «head rags» as he called them, because they «pollute» the Dutch landscape. He is also known for the 2008 short film Fitna, which offended Muslims around the world by juxtaposing Qur’anic verses with images of terrorism.

Convictions for discriminatory remarks are frequent in the Netherlands, but penalties rarely extend beyond a small fine.

Prosecutors were initially reluctant to bring Wilders’s case to court, saying his remarks appeared directed toward Islam as an ideology rather than intended to insult Muslims as a group. But they were eventually ordered to do so by a judge.

Mohamed Rabbae, chairman of the moderate National Moroccan Council, said outside the court that he hoped judges would force Wilders to issue an apology for his past remarks.

«We are not for getting Wilders in prison. We are for correcting him,» he said