Trial of Geert Wilders, POPULAR anti-Islam Dutch politician, off to contentious start

The trial of a Dutch MP accused of inciting hatred against Muslims has opened and been adjourned in Amsterdam today after Mr Wilders accused presiding judge, Jan Moors, of bias and asked for him to be replaced.

Birmingham Wired Geert Wilders, 47, is charged with five counts of giving religious offence to Muslims and inciting hatred and discrimination against people of non-western immigrant origin.

He is said to have described Islam as a “sick ideology” and likened its “fascist” holy book to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

The controversial MP, whose Party for Freedom came third in recent elections and is expected to play a key role in the next parliament, faces up to a year in jail or a €7,600 (£6,560) fine if found guilty.

Mr Wilders told the court in an opening statement that he was being persecuted “for stating my opinion in the context of public debate” and that he would invoke his right to remain silent throughout the hearing.

When the judge suggested that he was avoiding discussion, Mr Wilders accused him of making an “inappropriate” statement and claimed that a fair trial no longer seemed possible.

(But is it Geert Wilders who really is on trial here? Or is it, rather, that basic right of free speech upon which democracy and free societies are born? This is what makes the Wilders case so ironic – and so tragic: in speaking out against an ideology that threatens the very core values of the Netherlands with an incursion of oppressive, Islamist influences and attempts to grab power, Wilders is being threatened  by the very government he is struggling to protect.)