Dutch judiciary will not prosecute politician for anti-Islamic statements

[JURIST] The Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) [official website, English version] will not prosecute politician Geert Wilders [personal website, in Dutch] for his video and printed statements against the Quran and Islam because the statements are not punishable under anti-discrimination laws [OM statement]. Wilders, who is an official with the right-wing People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) [party website, in Dutch], released written statements in 2006 and 2007 that elicited more than 40 criminal complaints against him. A film released by Wilders on the Internet last March led to dozens more criminal complaints. In its statement, the OM said:

The fact that statements are hurtful and offensive to a large number of Muslims does not necessarily mean that such statements are punishable. It is true that some statements insult Muslims, but these were made in the context of public debate, which means that the statements are no longer of a punishable nature.
The OM also called Wilders' comments acceptable because they were made as part of a public debate on Islam and criticized Islam as a whole, rather than Dutch Muslims specifically. Last week, the Dutch Foreign Ministry expressed concerned that a court in Jordan would issue an international warrant for Wilders' arrest [NIS report] after it found a case against him admissible earlier this month. The Canadian Press has more.

Wilders' 15-minute film, Fitna, shows images of the Quran alongside images of violence and says democratic values are threatened by the increasing number of Muslims in Europe. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the film "offensively anti-Islamic" [JURIST report] after its release. In February, Pakistan blocked access to YouTube's website because it had posted a movie trailer for Wilders' film, but access was restored [JURIST reports] several days later. Indonesia followed suit [JURIST report] in April. The same month, a district court in the Netherlands rejected [JURIST report] a bid by the Dutch Islamic Federation to block Wilders' anti-Quran statements, saying that his comments are protected by the right of free expression and do not constitute speech that incites hate or violence.


 

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