Netherlands to prosecute Wilders for anti-Islam statements
The Netherlands plans to prosecute right-wing MP Geert Wilders for inciting hatred and discrimination with anti-Islam statements he made in his film “Fitna” and public comments. An Amsterdam court overruled the public prosecutor who had argued Wilders was protected by the right to free speech.
(Photo: Geert Wilders in Jerusalem, 14 Dec 2008/Ronen Zvulun)
In “Fitna,” Wilders urged Muslims to tear out “hate-filled” verses from the Koran, which he compares to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The film intersperses shots of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and other bombings with quotations from the Koran.
In the months before it was released in late March, “Fitna” prompted concern in the Netherlands that it could become a repeat of the Danish cartoon controversy. But if it wanted to provoke a backlash, it failed. The Muslim community reacted calmly and the issue soon blew over. In fact, the country’s National Coordinator for Counterterrorism found a silver lining in the long debate preceding the film, saying it actually brought Christian and Muslim groups closer together. Wilders has tried to kindle interest in the short film, which he promoted last month during a trip to Israel, but it doesn’t seem to be catching on.
If the “Fitna” affair has mostly calmed down, is any good purpose served in reviving it and giving Wilders another platform to air his views? Do the Dutch need to pursue this even after he apparently failed to make his case in the court of public opinion?