Thursday

1st Sep 2016

Wilders denounces latest court case as 'political trial'

  • Wilders (r) announcing a partnership with Marine Le Pen's Front National (Photo: European Parliament)

Dutch politician Geert Wilders is due to go on trial on Friday (18 March) charged with inciting hatred, discrimination and insulting a group based on race, a court case he has dismissed as a “political trial”.

He is being charged over comments he made at a campaign event in The Hague in March 2014, when he asked the audience if they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the country. The crowd chanted “Fewer! Fewer!” In response, Wilders said: “Then we will arrange that.”

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Earlier this month, Wilders told an event in Brussels organised by the Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom, an alliance of eurosceptic far-right parties, that the trial was “meant to silence me”.

But the leader of the Dutch anti-immigration PVV party did not repeat his question about Moroccans.

Instead, he said: “If I had now asked the same about Syrians, I probably would have received the Nobel peace prize.”

He added that “pretty much all” government leaders were aiming for that now.

He was speaking at an event about freedom, which he said was being “threatened” by what he called the political elite.

He reminded the audience that his personal freedom has been restricted for more than 11 years. Wilders has been receiving protection since October 2004, when a video on a jihadist website threatened him with beheading. He has continued to receive death threats since.

Giving a glimpse of his personal motivation, Wilders rhetorically asked what the people that filed a complaint against him wanted to achieve.

“Do they think they can take away my freedom? Forget it. What freedom? The only freedom I have left is my freedom of speech, and I will never let that get taken from me. No judge will ever achieve that,” he said.

It is not the first time Wilders has been prosecuted – in 2011 he was cleared of all charges in a case in which he had been suspected of insulting a group, inciting hatred, and discrimination.

'Patriotic spring'

The latest trial comes as Wilders' party is doing very well in the polls.

Since the migration crisis kicked off in September 2015, the PVV has been almost consistently ahead of the other parties in surveys conducted by four different polling organisations.

In his speech, he announced that a "patriotic spring" was taking place in Europe and in the US.

"There is a political revolution happening. Of course, without violence, democratically, but it is scaring the heck out of the established order," Wilders said.

Success in the opinion polls is in sharp contrast to the decline in the party's fortunes in actual elections since it withdrew its support for a minority government in 2012.

Since then, Wilders' party received lower shares of the popular vote in national, regional, and European elections. It has also lost three of its 15 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament after disgruntled MPs left the party - two of them left because of his comment about Moroccans.

Ukraine referendum

While it is still a year before national elections are scheduled, there is one other poll that the anti-EU politician will try to profit from.

In April, the Dutch will vote in a non-binding referendum on an EU-Ukraine association agreement.

“I think that the chances are very big that a majority of the people will vote No in this referendum,” Wilders told EUobserver after his speech in Brussels.

“An extra association agreement means more Europe.”

He added that the most important thing was to make sure that enough people show up on the referendum day to make the vote valid. Thirty percent of voters need to cast their ballots.

When asked if he would focus on his opposition to the EU-Ukraine treaty, or whether he would also play the anti-EU card in the referendum campaign, Wilders said the two were interchangeable.

“It is the same. It is a treaty of the European Union, which leads to more European Union. It is the European Union,” he said.

“Of course we are talking about the treaty, but it is a 100 percent also about the European Union and I will play both cards.”

Column / Brexit Briefing

UK cannot have and eat EU cake

The UK’s two main demands: migration control and single market access are irreconcilable. Something will have to give.

Gulen faithful at work in EU capital

Persecuted in Turkey as the alleged authors of the July putsch, the followers of Islamic teacher Fethullah Gulen are highly active in the EU capital.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EBECBright Engineering Students Designed the Future, Today at the BEST Competition
  2. Access NowInternet wins! Net Neutrality Victory in EU
  3. EuridThe 2016 .eu Web Awards is a Chance to Make Dreams Come True so Vote Today !
  4. Nordic CouncilNordic-Baltic Co-operation Vital in Turbulent Times
  5. GoogleBrussels: Home of Beer, Fries, Chocolate and Google’s Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  6. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students to China for ICT Training
  7. EFASpain is Not a Democratic State. EFA Expresses Solidarity to A. Otegi and EH Bildu
  8. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  9. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  10. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  11. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Applies Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  12. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests

Latest News

  1. Verheugen went off-script in VW cheat testimony
  2. Poland may remove constitutional judges
  3. Spain's Rajoy faces uphill battle to win MPs' support
  4. Russia and Turkey restart talks on EU gas pipeline
  5. MEPs call for reconciliation with Turkey
  6. Egypt blames EU-Turkey deal for refugee spike
  7. EU dithering aggravated refugee crisis, Merkel says
  8. Verheugen did not think VW cheating was morally possible