Dutch Lawmaker Tries to Avoid Hate Speech Charges

January 13, 2010

Author: Toby Sterling

Source: The Austin-American Statesman

Wire Service: AP


Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders asked judges on Wednesday to drop or reduce charges against him of criminal incitement, arguing that his anti-Islam message falls within the boundaries of freedom of speech.

Wilders, one of the country's most popular politicians, is due to go on trial in March for allegedly insulting Muslims as a group and inciting hatred and discrimination against them.

After the closed pretrial hearing at Amsterdam District Court, Wilders said the session was "the first day of a political trial."

Charges against Wilders stem from his 2008 short film "Fitna," which offended many Muslims by juxtaposing Quranic verses against images of terrorism by Islamic radicals.