By Ellen Asermely
By Ellen Asermely
Rabat – Dutch far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders was found not guilty of hate speech but guilty of discrimination and group insult. He will face no punishment.
The verdict is in reference to comments Wilders, the leader of the Freedom Party, made about Moroccans while campaigning in The Hague in 2014.
On camera, Wilders said of his campaign: ‘They are voting for a safer and more social city with fewer problems and, if possible, fewer Moroccans.’ Wilders also asked the audience at a rally if they wanted ‘more or less Moroccans’ and the crowd responded, as instructed, ‘less’. The comments were met with backlash from politicians, Muslim organizations, and Moroccan-Dutch people.
In December 2014, public prosecution announced its intent to take Wilders to court for discrimination and inciting hatred.
During the case, judges wanted to determine whether the remarks were impulsive or planned in advance. They also wanted to address the fact that Wilders later claimed his remarks referred to ‘criminal Moroccans’ while simultaneously refusing to withdraw his statements previously made in The Hague.
The public prosecutor also argued that Wilders used rhetoric to ‘drive the room’, saying ‘The unnecessarily hurtful nature of the statements can exist without foul language. The grievance lies mainly in the tone of speech, and inflammatory character…Here Wilders failed as a politician.’
The court found Wilders not guilty of hate speech, as his comments were not a call for violence. However, he was found guilty of discrimination and group insult. It was ‘legally and convincingly proven’ that Wilders had insulted Moroccans as an ethnic group, violating the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.
He will not pay a fine, as the prosecution requested, as the court ruled that a criminal conviction was sufficient punishment.
Three PVV hating judges declare that Moroccans are a race and convict me and half of the Netherlands.
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) December 9, 2016
Wilders questioned the legitimacy of the court, and his lawyer announced that they will appeal the decision.