Wednesday

26th Apr 2017

Wilders convicted for insulting Moroccans

  • Wilders called for 'fewer Moroccans' in the city of The Hague (Photo: European Parliament)

Dutch anti-EU politician Geert Wilders has been convicted by a Dutch court on Friday (9 December) for insulting a group and inciting discrimination, for remarks he made about Moroccans in 2014.

The court said it was “legally and convincingly proven” that Wilders had insulted Moroccans as a group when he rhetorically asked a crowd if there should be “fewer Moroccans” in the country.

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.

However, the court did not impose a fine or jail sentence.

Wilders was acquitted from the charge of inciting to hatred.

“This is not a political trial,” the judge said, adding that the personal opinions of the members of the court played no role in the verdict.

He noted that a democratic society should have room for remarks that “shock”, but that freedom of speech is not unlimited.

Those limits also apply to MPs, the judge said.

“Democratically elected politicians like Wilders are not above the law.”

Mere minutes after the verdict was announced, Wilders' defence lawyer announced he would appeal.

Wilders was not present during the ruling. In a tweet, Wilders called the verdict "completely crazy", said the judges "hated" his political party and that "half the Netherlands" had been convicted with him.

The judge also said statements Wilders made via his Twitter account, denouncing the court as biased, were “unworthy of an elected politician”.

'Fewer, fewer' Moroccans

Wilders was before the court case after public statements he made in the run-up to local elections in March 2014.

Talking to a tv reporter, he said that if his party were in charge of The Hague, the city would have “if at all possible, fewer Moroccans.”

On the night of the elections, a week later, Wilders asked supporters whether they wanted “less Europe” and if they wanted “fewer Moroccans."

The crowd chanted “fewer, fewer”, following which Wilders said: “Then we will arrange that.”

The public prosecutor had previously demanded Wilders pay a €5,000 fine for “insulting Moroccans as a group and inciting hatred of and discrimination against Moroccans”.

Ahead of the verdict, Wilders had said the verdict “whether acquittal or conviction, will not change anything de facto”, and that he would continue to speak his mind.

Several political analysts had pointed out, ahead of Friday's ruling, that both outcomes would be a political win for Wilders.

Having lost the case, he can now play the role of the victim who is being silenced by the establishment. Wilders, throughout the case had dubbed it a “political trial” and said the judges were biased against him.

Had he won the case, he would be able to prove he was right all along.

In any case, Wilders is expected to do well in the upcoming national elections in the Netherlands, on 15 March 2017.

His party has been leading in most polls for weeks and has consistently been doing well since the migration crisis broke out in September 2015.

Wilders also profits from a general anti-establishment feeling in the Netherlands.

Earlier this year, he campaigned against an EU-Ukraine treaty, and correctly predicted to EUobserver that “the chances are very big that a majority of the people will vote No in this referendum”.

Wilders' virtual success in the polls contrasts sharply to his party's parliamentary representation since he withdrew his support from a minority government in 2012.

His party has only 12 of 150 seats in the Lower House, after having lost three dissident MPs. Two of them had left after the “fewer Moroccans” speech.

While polls may have lost some credibility after failing to predict Brexit or the outcome of the US election, it is widely expected that Wilders' party will come out victorious in next year's elections.

Analysis

Orban set to face down EU threats

The European Commission and Parliament are to debate Hungary's slide into illiberal democracy. But the bloc continues to think that Hungarian leader Viktor Orban is not a systemic threat.

European right divided on EU values after Brexit

A day after the UK notified its exit from the EU, leaders of the European People's Party expressed a different vision of Europe's identity, with Hungary's Orban calling for a stop to the Muslim "invasion".

France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win

Despite opinion polls that place centrist Macron well ahead of the far-right leader Le Pen in the 7 May presidential run-off, doubts are emerging about his capacity to unite the French people around his candidacy.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament moves to lift Le Pen's immunity
  2. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's university law
  3. Scots slowly losing appetite for independence - poll
  4. Council of Europe puts Turkey on watch list
  5. EU to put parental leave on political agenda
  6. Israel cancels German meeting over human rights groups
  7. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  8. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children

Latest News

  1. Brexit is about Europe's future as well
  2. Power struggle in Greenland: Three reasons why the EU should care
  3. Nordic and Baltic countries step up digitalisation efforts
  4. European states still top media freedom list
  5. Let’s not put European public health at risk
  6. Threatened Budapest university calls for EU support
  7. Orban set to face down EU threats
  8. Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU