Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders was cleared of all five charges in the Netherlands on Thursday, where he had faced up to a year in prison for allegedly inciting violence through his anti-Islam rhetoric.
David Jolly of the New York Times reports:
The presiding judge of the Amsterdam District Court, Marcel van Oosten, found that Mr. Wilders’ actions, while offensive, were protected speech. In dismissing the charges, the judge described some of Mr. Wilders’s comments as “rude and denigrating,” and others as “on the edge of what is allowed,” Radio Netherlands reported.
“It’s not only an acquittal for me, but a victory for freedom of expression in the Netherlands,” said Wilders, according to the Associated Press. “Fortunately you’re allowed to discuss Islam in public debate and you’re not muzzled.”
TPM readers will remember Wilders as a special guest at Pamela Geller’s rally against the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero, which took place last September 11. Geller introduced Wilders as “a modern-day Churchill,” and in his remarks he called the project “a mosque, a house of sharia,” that is “not only a provocation. It’s humiliation.”
In the past, he has also said Islam is “not a religion, it’s an ideology,” the “ideology of a retarded culture,” and that he supports a ban on the Qu’ran, which he once described thusly: “The core of the problem is the fascist Islam, the sick ideology of Allah and Mohammed as laid down in the Islamic Mein Kampf: the Qu’ran.”