Notorious Islamophobe and right-wing politician Geert Wilders has been found guilty on one of three counts but will face no fine or jail time.
Rabat – A Dutch appeals court upheld on Friday a guilty verdict for controversial parliamentarian Geert Wilders on the charge of insulting a minority, after a six-year legal case. While the judge found Wilders guilty on one count, they acquitted him of charges of inciting violence and discrimination.
The MP received the initial guilty verdicts from a lower court in 2016.
Wilders did not receive the jail time or the €5,000 fine the prosecution sought, and will appeal the case in the Dutch supreme court. His appeal is unlikely to succeed as the supreme court only evaluates the legal procedure of the case and will not accept additional testimony or evidence.
The court case received significant attention in the Netherlands. Wilders routinely makes provocative and purposefully blasphemous remarks towards Islam, Dutch Muslims, and Moroccans. Observers saw the case as a judgement on the limits of free speech in Dutch society, a community with strict laws on hate speech and discrimination.
The case revolved around two remarks Wilders made in March 2014. Wilders first said he supported “those who want less Moroccans” in The Hague. One week later he asked a crowd of his political supporters where they wanted, “more, or fewer Moroccans,” in their city.
The court did not consider the first remark to be a direct insult of a minority, but found Wilders guilty for the public remarks he made the following week. Wilders had carefully planned the election campaign speech that led to the guilty verdict for maximum “shock effect,” according to his PVV party officials.
The MP bemoaned his sentencing as a political trial. He claims political intentions or prejudice are motivating the court, but the judiciary stated that Wilders received a fair trial.
WIlders’ guilty sentence imposes no concrete consequences, and his base has rallied in his defense. The judge said the MP “already paid a high price for years for expressing his opinion,” according to the BBC. Problematic rhetoric against immigrants, Moroccans, and other minorities is becoming increasingly mainstream in the Netherlands as Europe slowly lurches to the political right.