Dutch court rules on witnesses for Wilders’ trial

The witness list for Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders’ upcoming trial has been released. Wilders requested that 18 witnesses, including Mohammed B., Theo van Gogh’s murderer, legal experts, Muslim “radicals”, and “ex-Muslims” be called for his trial. Of the requested list, only three Islam experts will be heard, and will testify behind closed doors. In addition, the court has denied the prosecution’s call for Wilders to be interviewed behind closed doors. Wilders has said that he wants to be questioned publicly.

The right wing politician faces five counts of religious insult and anti-Muslim incitement. ANP reports that the trial will take place sometime between June 1 and October 31, 2010.

Freedom Party named “New Radical Right” in Netherlands

A report investigating polarization and radicalization across the Netherlands has named Geert Wilders’ Freedom Pary (PVV) the ‘new radical right’, a party with a national democratic ideology but without extreme right wing roots. The study, completed by four researchers at Tilburg University, notes that the party’s views on Islamisation and non-Western immigrants appear to have a discriminatory nature, the result of favoring “the familiar”. The study identifies the Freedom Party’s organization as authoritarian, not democratic. Wilders, in a comment to ANP, called the report “scandalous”.

Czech Muslim organization invites Wilders to screen Fitna

Czech Muslim organization Libertas Independent Agency is planning to invite Dutch MP Geert Wilders to show his short anti-Islam film Fitna and discuss its message with members, news agency ANP reports. Originally, Senator Jiri Oberfalzer had invited Wilders to show his film and deliver an address in the Senate on November 30, but the invitation was canceled after criticism from other senators and politicians. Libertas spokesman Lukas Lhotan says an open discussion is the best way to tackle anti-Islam sentiment. ‘We have seen what happens when prejudices are ignored, as anti-Semitism was ignored in the 20th century,’ he told ANP.

PVV Will Contest Only Two Local Elections

Geert Wilders’ PVV party will stand in only two cities in next year’s local elections. Wilders, who thinks the Koran should be banned and wants a halt to immigration, said the PVV planned to focus on the national and regional elections in 2011. ‘We want to be ready to rule so we need to be in the senate,’ he told ANP.

Although Wilders had been planning to field candidates in more locations, the party will run only in Almere and the Hague. Wilders told ANP that the strategy is an attempt to avoid the fate of the late Pim Fortuyn’s anti-Islam LPF party in 2002, which the party took 26 seats in parliament but collapsed due to inexperience and infighting.

Political parties have criticized Wilders’ decision to largely ignore the local elections. Femke Halsema, leader of the leftwing Groenlinks party, told Telegraaf, “He takes part in the European election although he doesn’t believe in it and now he won’t take part in the cities where he says he wants to solve problems.” But Maurice de Hond describes Wilders’ decision as ‘very clever’ in electoral terms as making mistakes in local councils could cost the party in parliamentary elections, he tells Telegraaf.

Dutch terrorism-buster to launch probe into Salafism

BRUSSELS — The Dutch National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism (NCTb) said on Wednesday that it will launch a nationwide investigation into the spread of Salafism in the Netherlands. The influence of Salafism, an ultra-orthodox form of Islam, is growing in the Netherlands, the Dutch news agency ANP reported.

Van Gogh monument vandalised

AMSTERDAM (ANP) – The monument to Theo van Gogh in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam was vandalised last week. ‘Al Qaeda’ was written on the statue in black letters, the police said on Saturday. The date ’27-11-2007′ was also written on the monument in black marker. It is still unknown who is responsible for the deed. The statue De Schreeuw (The Screen) is on the edge of the Oosterpark, close to where Van Gogh was murdered by an Islamic fundamentalist on 2 November 2004. The monument was unveiled in March this year.

CDA wants to find way to close radical mosques

The Christian Democrats are searching for a way to close down mosques in which radical imams preach hate, says CDA MP Madeleine van Toorenburg. The initiative is supported by the Liberals (VVD) and Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration PVV party, reports ANP news agency. However, it is unlikely that a parliamentary majority would support such a move, says ANP. The ChristenUnie, Socialist Party and centre-left D66 have expressed their opposition to the proposal. The CDA and the ChristenUnie are members of the coalition government. The position of the third partner, Labour, is not known. An earlier attempt by the CDA to close down radical mosques in 2005 failed. The new proposal comes in the same week as Geert Wilders’ call for a ban on the Koran which continues to attract widespread condemnation. Socialist Party leader Jan Marijnissen is the latest to add to the criticism of Wilders. On his weblog, Marijnissen calls the proposal to ban the Koran _stupid and unpleasant’.