Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Geert Wilders' appeal against "fewer Moroccans" conviction to start Thursday

Geert Wilders' appeal against

An appeal court in the Netherlands is expected to begin hearing evidence in the Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders' "fewer Moroccans" case, reports Dutch News. "Good, we're going to arrange that", Wilders concluded. His comments triggered some 6,400 complaints to the prosecution.

Wilders was found guilty of inciting and encouraging discrimination in 2016 for statements made at a rally of his Party for Freedom.

The appeal judges said the bid was "refused", adding the "decision on whether to prosecute a person or not lies with the prosecution service".

During Thursday's court hearing, Wilders' lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops argued that the criteria used to determine whether statements are discriminatory were vague and "selectively applied" against his client, according to Reuters.

Pechtold made his remark after the then Dutch foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra had apologized for having lied about a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. To support his claim, Knoops pointed out that prosecutors had not brought a case against Alexander Pechtold from the centrist D66 party, who had been accused of making insulting comments about Russians. "If one of them is prosecuted, the other should be as well". Wilders reacted by calling the court "biased" and added: "You can not give me the honest proceedings I had hoped for". "The decision by the presiding judge is so incomprehensible that it raises questions about whether there is some influence here". "Freedom of speech must always prevail over violence and terror", Wilders said at the time. "We may never accept that", accompanied by a cartoon depicting himself standing outside a cell, watching an angry turban-wearing man inside.

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And in another inflammatory move, he announced he was planning to organize a "Mohammed-cartoon contest later this year in the Dutch parliament with the world famous cartoonist and ex-Muslim Bosch Fawstin". He embraces the media's characterization of him as an "anti-Islam politician".

However, the court decided not to fine or sentence Wilders on the basis that a criminal conviction was sufficient punishment in itself.

In line with other recent swings to the far-right in Europe, and following the election of USA maverick Republican President Donald Trump, the fortunes of the PVV have soared.

His PVV party came in second behind the Liberal VVD party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Wilders now heads the biggest opposition party in the Dutch lower house of parliament. During the 2017 general elections, he vowed as part of his platform to close mosques, ban sales of the Koran and block Muslim migrants from entering the Netherlands.

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