Far-right MP Geert Wilders to face trial after court upholds hate speech charges

Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders has lost his fight to have race-hate charges over comments he made about Moroccans thrown out. The leader of the Party for Freedom, who caused outrage when he goaded supporters at a rally in 2014, will face trial later this month after his objections were thrown out by The Hague District Court on Frday. His lawyers dismissed the trial as a “political case” ahead of parliamentary elections in March. The court said in a statement: “Other European court decisions show that members of parliament on the one hand should have a broad freedom to express themselves.“ But politicians had a duty “to prevent making public announcements that feed intolerance”, it added.

The Netherlands is like Turkey. Displeasing political opinions are being silenced in court

Geert Wilders

Mr Wilders is being prosecuted after asking supporters at the rally if they wanted wanted “fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?” After the crowd shouted back “fewer” Mr Wilders said: “We’re going to organise that”. But his comments triggered more than 6,400 complaints and criticism from within Mr Wilders’ party. Five organisations and 56 people have registered as victims of the remarks, judges said. The MP was previously cleared of five counts of inciting hatred in 2011, after he compared Islam to Nazism.