AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Dec. 9 (UPI) — Populist and far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders was convicted of hate speech charges Friday near Amsterdam. The judges said no sentence will be imposed.
Wilders, 53, leader of the Party for Freedom, was found guilty by a three-judge panel of inciting discrimination and “insulting a group” for a 2014 incident broadcast on national television, in which he led a chant at a political rally in The Hague; to the question “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in the city and in the Netherlands?” he and the crowd shouted “Fewer, fewer.”
That action was enough to get Wilders convicted of hate speech charges, although Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said no sentence would be issued and that the conviction alone was sufficient punishment for a prominent politician. The trial was conducted on a military base near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to ensure the security of Wilders, as well as that of the judges and the prosecutors; Wilders has a long history of inflammatory remarks and is under constant protection.
Wilders is the leader of a political party forecast to dramatically improve its representation in the Netherlands’ legislatures in March election. Under the slogan “Make the Netherlands Great Again,” his popularity has increased since the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President-elect. Inflammatory remarks regarding Islam, immigration and Dutch minority groups are typical elements of Wilders’ speeches.
Wilders was not present in court when the verdict was announced. Since the trial began Oct. 31, he appeared in court only once, during his defense team’s closing arguments; his comments in court, in Dutch, were published in English on his website.
“I need to use the only freedom that I still have to protect our country against Islam and against terrorism. Against immigration from Islamic countries. Against the huge problem with Moroccans in the Netherlands. I cannot remain silent about it; I have to speak out. Not a single nationality is a race. Belgians are no race, Americans are no race. Stop this nonsense, I say to the public prosecutor. I am not a racist, and my voters are neither.”
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