For the crime of “insulting Islam”, Geert Wilders will go on trial in Amsterdam next month, exactly one year after the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama.
As most readers know by now, Mr. Wilders is being prosecuted for making statements that are factually true, and for voicing opinions about Islam which are unremarkable by the standards of this blog, and which are based on the observable behavior of violent and intolerant Muslims all over the world.
The trial is a judicial farce, a shameless attempt to put an end to the political career of Geert Wilders. He is inconveniently popular with the voters of the Netherlands, so the elite governing class has decided to run him out of office by non-electoral means.
Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated a couple of articles about the upcoming trial. First, from the PVV website, news of a demonstration planned for the day the trial begins:
January 20: Demonstration for freedom of expression
Demonstrate against the political process used against Geert Wilders
January 20, 2010 will be a crucial day in the defense of our freedom. That day the political process against Geert Wilders will begin. Commissioned by the Amsterdam Court, the Public Ministry has summoned Geert Wilders. The indictment reads: Insulting Muslims as a group, inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims because of their religion, and inciting hatred and discrimination against non-western immigrants and/or Moroccans because of their race. This even though the earlier prosecutor saw no cause in the evidence for the prosecution to proceed.
Are you also against the political process against Geert Wilders, and do you want to defend freedom of expression? Come to Amsterdam to demonstrate! On January 20 at 9:00 in the District Court in Amsterdam.
Geert Wilders: “On January 20 a political court case will begin. I am being persecuted for my political convictions. Freedom of expression is balancing on the edge of a cliff. If a politician can not criticize an ideology any longer, there is no end to it, that will mean the end of our freedom. But I will remain combative: I am convinced that I will be acquitted “.
Wednesday January 20 next, starting 09:00
Rechtbank Amsterdam [Amsterdam Court]
Parnassusweg 220 [map]
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Directions from Amsterdam CS (train station):
- Take tram number 5 or metro number 51 to “Station Zuid/WTC” (South/World Trade Center).
- From Station Zuid/WTC:
- Follow the footpath (the WTC building is to your right hand side).
- Walk through the pedestrian/bicycle tunnel and then turn left
- Continue straight ahead and walk though the next pedestrian/bicycle tunnel
- You then are in front of the Court building
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For those who might think of organizing anything abroad, here is a list of Dutch Embassies.
An essay on the ramifications of a successful prosecution of Geert Wilders, from Het Vrije Volk:
What if Wilders is sentenced?
by Joost Niemöller
Next month the trial against Geert Wilders will begin. He has received the summons. It all depends now on the political opinion of the court, because there are no facts in this case. And what if Wilders goes to prison for four years and loses the right to be elected? What if criticism of Islam becomes punishable? What then will remain?
Geert Wilders has received the subpoena of the Public Prosecutor. It can be read on the PVV website. On Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 09.00 hours, Wilders must appear in the Amsterdam Court. He is accused of:
1. intentionally insulting a group of people, namely Muslims “because of their religion”, 2. inciting hatred against “a group of people, namely Muslims,” “because of their religion’, 3. inciting discrimination against “people, namely Muslims” because of their religion, and 4. inciting hatred against people, namely “non-western immigrants and / or Moroccans” because of their race.”
The proof: A pile of statements made by Wilders in the media, plus the film Fitna.
What should a judge do with these accusations?
1. Establish that Muslims have been intentionally insulted, 2. find evidence that the statements of Wilders incite hatred against Muslims, 3. find evidence that the statements of Wilders incite hatred against non-western immigrants and Moroccans, and 4. find evidence that he actually did incite discrimination.
Can you objectively prove something like that?
In other words: What is the difference between criticism of religion, as a means of convincing, and criticism of religion with no other purpose but to hurt people?
I am not a lawyer. But according to me something like that can never be proven objectively. No matter which way the court argues its verdict, it will ultimately come down to an opinion.
It’s already hard enough to prove to whether anyone intentionally or unintentionally caused the death of a person. But the result, death, is still an easy fact to establish, and deliberate actions can with a certain degree of reasonableness be distinguished from coincidence.
As everyone will acknowledge, with incitement to hatred, discrimination, and incitement to insulting we find ourselves on subjective quicksand. What is hatred? When is someone offended, and when has this been induced deliberately? What is discrimination? All mud.
In the explanatory text accompanying the Dutch Constitution, concerning discrimination, for example, it says:
“Discrimination is difficult to define. The government described the scope of the prohibition of discrimination as the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of qualities or characteristics of persons which are in all reasonableness not relevant to the determination of entitlements and obligations in a particular area of social life.”
“The concept of discrimination has a pejorative meaning and points to a distinction that is offensive.”
What brings us back to that “insult.” Whereby discrimination thus is also reduced to a subjective experience.
Think of having to deal with that, being a judge. Where can the facts be found in all this? Where do the opinions begin? The court cannot do anything else but give an opinion about interpretations of opinions. And because this is all about political views, it will also be a political process. With major political consequences.
If Wilders is charged both with defamation (Article 137c: “He who […] expresses himself in an way insulting of a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief, or their hetero- or homosexual nature or their physical, mental, or intellectual disabilities…”) as well as hatred (Article 137d: “He who […] incites hatred against or discrimination of people or violent behavior against person or property of people because of their race, their religion or belief, their gender or hetero- or homosexual nature or their physical, mental, or intellectual disabilities…”) may risk a prison sentence of four years. With a sentence of one year or more, of Wilders’ voting rights can also be withdrawn, which means that he is not allowed to exercise his franchise, and also can not be elected (Article 56 of the Dutch Constitution.) In this last instance Wilders then would be forced outside the regular political system by the court.
Will a judge let such a thing happen? That is impossible to predict. In the case against Volkert van der Graaf, the murderer of Fortuyn, the judge did not sentence him to a life imprisonment, because, as the official press release reads:
In the opinion of the court, the attack, although it did not yield a risk to the continuation of democracy, has undoubtedly infringed on such an important democratic process as the national elections on May 15, 2002. The murder of the victim influenced on the election process, but the scale and nature cannot be determined in the context of the criminal proceedings.
Whether the murder of Fortuyn really “had not yielded a risk to the continuation of democracy” was obviously nothing more than a political opinion of the court. If the then PvdA leader Ad Melkert had been assassinated [a Socialist, had also contributed to the demonizing of Fortuyn], the court there might have had a different opinion about it. But that verdict in the Fortuyn murder case at that time (April 15, 2003) caused no uproar in the media. They thought it was right this way. That was for me the moment when I lost my faith in the ability of judges to judge objectively in politically sensitive cases. And also in the critical abilities of journalists when they have their political prejudices standing in their way.
And that was at least murder case.
Now, with Wilders, it will be a case of aqueous issues such as ‘hate’, ‘insult’, and ‘discrimination’.
Thus, with those statements, the case can still really go any direction. There is also an appeal possible. And there is European law. It seems to me likely that somewhere in he legal proceedings Wilders will bump up against a judge who intends to impose his own political opinion, which is not imaginary. The probability that the Dutch media will express their outrage in such a case is, I think, rather small. In contrast, however, the chance of popular outrage seems quite high. The chance of an even more extensive polemic against Islam seems even greater. But what are the options left for the latter?
If Wilders is convicted, it will put an end to his political ability to fight Islam. Because then he will be disabled as a functioning politician. But it then goes even further. Because in such a case, from then on it also will be a criminal offense to criticize Islam. Muslims may at any time feel “offended”, “hated” and “discriminated against”. Judges in such cases must take account of the verdict against Wilders. This will not only cut off the political means to fight the Islam in the Netherlands, but also the public debate on Islam will have to go underground.
Or even worse: then a violent struggle against the Islam remains the only possibility. For that we will owe thanks to a court with a political opinion.