Dutch Politician Wilders Faces Hate Speech Trial Over Comments on Islam

Geert Wilders, a Dutch political party leader who has agreed to support the first minority government in the country since World War II, will go on trial in an Amsterdam court next week for inciting hatred and insulting Muslims.

Wilders, head of the Freedom Party, called the Koran “fascist” and compared it to Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf in a 2007 Dutch newspaper editorial, which led to complaints. A year later, he released his movie “Fitna,” in which he calls on Muslims to rip out “hate-preaching” verses from the book.

“The Court of Appeal considers criminal prosecution obvious for the insult of Islamic worshippers,” when Wilders compared parts of Islam with Nazism, it ruled last year, overturning a 2008 decision not to charge him.

The trial coincides with the formation of a new minority government led by the Liberal Party and Christian Democratic Alliance, which relies on Wilder’s Freedom Party to pass legislation. The government plans to ban full-face Islamic veils, a key issue for Wilders’ party, which more than doubled its representation in parliament in June elections.

Prosecutors, who charged Wilders a year ago, said more than 40 people reported his editorial comments to the police while others complained about his film.

“If you voice your opinion you run the risk of being prosecuted,” Wilders has said on his website. He didn’t return a text message today seeking comment ahead of the trial.

15-Minute Film

Wilders, 47, is charged with insulting a group of people, inciting hatred and inciting discrimination with his comments, the court said on its website. Wilders may face as many as two years in prison or be fined as much as 19,000 euros ($26,000).

Wilders released his film “Fitna” on the Internet in March 2008. The 15-minute movie features verses from the Koran alongside images of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The movie led to protests in majority-Muslim countries including Indonesia and Pakistan and prompted calls for a boycott of Dutch products in Malaysia.

Wilders, who is under constant police protection, is scheduled to appear in court in Amsterdam on Oct. 4 at 9 a.m. local time. The entire trial will be webcast, which is unusual in the Netherlands, and a ruling is expected Nov. 2.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jurjen van de Pol in Amsterdam at jvandepol@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Fraher at jfraher@bloomberg.net.

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