Monday

21st Aug 2017

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.”

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.”

Focus

Dutch eurosceptics defiant after EU vote

Appointing Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz to top EU posts means the eurosceptic vote is being ignored, says Dutch anti-EU deputy.

Focus

Autocratic Wilders preaches against 'undemocratic' EU

Geert Wilders, arguably the most famous Dutch politician in Europe, regularly takes the EU to task for being undemocratic. But his own party is not famed for its democratic structures either.

Wilders convicted for insulting Moroccans

Dutch court says far right politician should not have made his statements calling for "fewer Moroccans" in 2014. However, he will not receive any jail sentence or fine.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference