This is very good news. It’s not over — the judge may overrule the prosecutors. But this is a crucial step toward sanity in the Netherlands.
Let’s hope that Wilders will emerge fully acquitted, and that this will be the end of these efforts to curtail the freedom of speech. But I suspect we will be seeing much more of these kinds of trials in the future. Let’s hope they all have a happy ending such as what looks more possible for Wilders with this news. “Wilders not guilty on all counts – Update,” from Dutch News, October 15 (thanks to all who sent this in):
The public prosecution department on Friday afternoon stated that Geert Wilders is not guilty of discriminating against Muslims. Earlier on Friday it announced he should also be found not guilty of inciting hatred.
Prosecutors Birgit van Roessel and Paul Velleman reached their conclusions after a careful reading of interviews with and articles by the anti-Islam politician and a viewing of his anti-Koran film Fitna.
They said comments about banning the Koran can be discriminatory, but because Wilders wants to pursue a ban on democratic lines, there is no question of incitement to discrimination ‘as laid down in law’.
On the comparison of the Koran with Mein Kampf, the prosecutors said the comparison was ‘crude but that did not make it punishable’.
Dealing earlier on Friday with incitement to hatred, Van Roessel and Velleman said some comments could incite hatred against Muslims if taken out of context, but if the complete text is considered, it can be seen that Wilders is against the growing influence of Islam and not against Muslims per sÃ©.
On Tuesday, the prosecutors said the MP should not be found guilty of group insult….
UPDATE: I’ve revised this headline and post to reflect more clearly the fact that the judge has yet to rule.